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View Full Version : Give me the quick and dirty on Psionics (AD&D 3.5)


Agent Foxtrot
01-06-2011, 08:19 AM
I'm part of a D&D group who has met weekly since last March. The DM is great, but has been running our Forgotten Realms adventure for almost a year and would like to take a break every few sessions to play a PC. Thus, I've volunteered to run a background Dark Sun campaign with Neutral- or Evil-aligned characters, and everyone seems excited about it.

However, in the Dark Sun campaign, every person has an innate psionic ability. I've have pretty much every manual on my computer, and I can't seem to find out exactly how psionics work (I've never used them before). Can someone give me a quick run-down of how to use them and possibly where I can find a list of spells? Thanks much.

Stormcrow
01-06-2011, 08:38 AM
The main 3.5 Psionics book that you want is the Expanded Psionics Handbook, which is the 3.5 version of the Psionics Handbook. You can get by with just that one book, although there are a handful of other books out there if you want more (complete psionic is the other main WOTC book - Malhavoc Press has a couple of neat Psionics related books that are worth looking at). Its got powers, classes, prestige classes, monsters, etc. A lot of the psionics stuff is also available on the various online SRD's (although not certain monsters like the Yuan Ti or Githyanki).

Psionics work off of power points. There are psionic classes, but there are also a handful of feats that allow a non-psi to manifest a power (psi-speak for "cast a spell"). Powers are chosen more like a sorceror than a wizard, but powers can often be enhanced by spending more power points.

I've been running a campaign that has a Psion PC for about 7 years now, so I can give you a lot of feedback on this.

Agent Foxtrot
01-06-2011, 11:22 AM
Thanks for the info, Stormcrow! I guess the power points work just like MP in any computer RPG?

By the way, your name isn't "Joe" by any chance, is it...?

kenobi 65
01-06-2011, 12:23 PM
Pretty much. You start each day with your full complement of power points (which is based on your level in a psionic class, and your ability score in the ability which is relevant for your particular class (Int for psions, Cha for wilders, Wis for psychic warriors).

There are four psionic base classes:
- Psions are vaguely analogous to wizards (though they "manifest" their powers spontaneously, so they're more like a sorcerer in that regard)
- Wilders pick their powers from the same list as psions, but learn fewer powers than psions. They make up for that with several other abilities, notably wild surge (the ability to manifest their powers at a higher level).
- Psychic warriors are meleers who use their psionic powers largely to buff themselves.
- Soulknives don't use power points at all; their powers center around using psionic to manifest quasi-physical weapons.

Most of the rules material from the Expanded Psionics Handbook is OGC, and, as such, can be found online, such as at D20SRD.org:
http://d20srd.org/indexes/psionicRacesClassesSkillsSpells.htm

Elendil's Heir
01-07-2011, 01:10 PM
...By the way, your name isn't "Joe" by any chance, is it...?

I guess he wants you to use your psionic powers to figure out if his name is Joe.

Stormcrow
01-07-2011, 01:18 PM
Ha! No, I'm not Joe, though I do have a Joe in my gaming group. I'm Rob, and I go by Kid Charlemagne on a handful of the various D&D and RPG sites out there.

smiling bandit
01-07-2011, 05:00 PM
BTW, Psionics are now pretty much just a pallette-swap of magic spells. They used to be more diverse and individualistic (but a bigger pain to actually use), but in 3.5, any given poer has a pretty good spell analogue and often vise-versa - but only as far as basic spells go. You can find analogues of basic effects from the Sorcerer/Wizard list, but there's tend to be less fancy at the higher end. Then again, the Wizard spellcasting hasn't been the same since they started trying to nail down all the really fun toys, so YMMV.


Upsides of Psi:

*Fewer creatures have psi resistance.
*Somewhat more flexibility than even a Sorcerer


Downsides of Psi:

*More limited effects
*Every psi-using class has some massive holes (Psion is really weak, Wilder totally dependant on its semi-barbarian rage thing, Psi War very limited, Soulknife completely dependant on assassination-type stuff) - even mroe than most classes.
*It's a lot easier, even in normal Darksun, for a spellcaster to improve with magic items and bonuses.

E-Sabbath
01-07-2011, 06:56 PM
Oh, I wouldn't say Psion is weak. My current character is a Psion and the group keeps asking me not to overwhelm the fights. And no, I didn't internet-optimize it.

Keys to psionics: Augmentation is key. Know how and when to overcharge your abilities. Never choose powers that _completely_ overlap one another, and plan ahead. Your 1st level attack power may well be useful at 14th level.

However, the tradeoff to being a psion is a strong lack of _endurance_. I can have my character destroy everything in front of me in the first fight... and then by the third be running on empty. Know how to pace yourself. Play smart. I like the spells that just take opponents out of the fight so the rest of the party can gang-tackle someone else.

smiling bandit
01-07-2011, 07:19 PM
Oh, I wouldn't say Psion is weak. My current character is a Psion and the group keeps asking me not to overwhelm the fights. And no, I didn't internet-optimize it.

I mean defensively. They pop like a wizard - or even worse - if you hit them with so much as a limp feather. *shrug* It's a tradeoff, and if you're using lots of defensive powers, you're not using offensive ones.

kenobi 65
01-08-2011, 12:41 AM
*Fewer creatures have psi resistance.

That depends on if your DM is using psionics / magic transparency. If he is, then any creature with spell resistance has the same resistance to psionic powers (and vice-versa), unless explicitly stated otherwise. If he isn't, he's just handed the psionics users a big lovely piece of cheese.

kenobi 65
01-08-2011, 12:45 AM
Oh, I wouldn't say Psion is weak. My current character is a Psion and the group keeps asking me not to overwhelm the fights. And no, I didn't internet-optimize it.

Keys to psionics: Augmentation is key. Know how and when to overcharge your abilities. Never choose powers that _completely_ overlap one another, and plan ahead. Your 1st level attack power may well be useful at 14th level.

However, the tradeoff to being a psion is a strong lack of _endurance_. I can have my character destroy everything in front of me in the first fight... and then by the third be running on empty. Know how to pace yourself. Play smart. I like the spells that just take opponents out of the fight so the rest of the party can gang-tackle someone else.

I played a psion in the RPGA's Living Arcanis campaign. He was a big boomstick, all right. I agree, pacing yourself is key, so you don't blow through all your power points too early.

My experience with psionic powers is that they tend to be "selfish" -- that is, they tend to be either self-buffs, or attack powers. Compared to wizards (or divine spellcasters such as clerics or druids), there seem to be fewer "utility" powers, and very few beneficial powers which can be extended to others.

E-Sabbath
01-08-2011, 05:39 AM
Ah, the defensively. Character's an Elan. It's painful in power point cost, but the ability to ignore 20 points of damage at will can't be overlooked.
Group buffs: Intellect Fortress is nice (sadly, it means I can't use the Elan ability)
But the biggest key in being a good party member is _tactics_. I chose Metacreativity. That's a huge party helper. 1 PP creates a flying scout and/or flankbuddy. 8 creates a mother-humping tank with grapple specialization.

And don't overlook the various entangles and cocoons for party value. If you've got a spellcaster whacked by one of those, they can't cast spells, which means everyone can beat on the meatshield without fear of fireball.

And, if you're using Magic Transparency, as my game does... Dispel Psionics got a _lot_ handier.

And really, is there anything more fun than using Death Urge on anyone at all?

Elan: Psionic race. Sort of like Scientology Clears. No stat buff, -2 charisma.
* Resistance (Su): Elans can use psionic energy to increase their resistance to various forms of attack. As an immediate action, an elan can spend 1 power point to gain a +4 racial bonus on saving throws until the beginning of her next action.
* Resilience (Su): When an elan takes damage, she can spend power points to reduce its severity. As an immediate action, she can reduce the damage she is about to take by 2 hit points for every 1 power point she spends.
* Repletion (Su): An elan can sustain her body without need of food or water. If she spends 1 power point, an elan does not need to eat or drink for 24 hours.

Hoopy Frood
01-09-2011, 06:27 PM
Ha! No, I'm not Joe, though I do have a Joe in my gaming group. I'm Rob, and I go by Kid Charlemagne on a handful of the various D&D and RPG sites out there.

I once played in a PnP Gurps campaign with someone that had Stormcrow as a PC name.

I don't recall his name being Rob, though. This was many years ago so the memory's a bit fuzzy.

E-Sabbath
01-09-2011, 07:29 PM
I only know Kid Cthulhu. And Piratecat.

Stormcrow
01-10-2011, 09:24 AM
I only know Kid Cthulhu. And Piratecat.

Quality over quantity, I see. :)

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