Looking for a 5e Psionics System for use in Dark Sun?

This kickstarter might be of interest to some of you.

I’m not affiliated with this kickstarter in any way, beyond being a day 1 backer :slight_smile:

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I hope it works out. I hear that WizBro dropped the ball on 5E psionics.

WotC got the ball, then dropped it, then picked it up again and dusted it off. Then they stomped on the ball until it was flat and tried to tell us it was a Frisbee all along.

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Did anyone listen to the Bone Stone and Obsidian podcast series? They did two episodes explaining psionics in every edition of D&D, including 5th. It illuminates some of the problems 5e has had creating a psionics system that will please everyone.

I know it doesn’t fully explain why WotC has dragged their feet on this issue for half a decade now, but it does explain why every D&D psionics system has had problems, and why reconciling them for the latest edition has been such a minefield:

https://misdirectedmark.com/category/podcasts/bsao/

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I haven’t heard the podcast, but I assumed it was because the idea of what psionics are and what they should and should not be able to do has been contentious.

On one hand we don’t want psionics to feel like magic with a different coat of paint, on another hand there’s been complaints of it being underpowered, boring, or needlessly complicated. So designers are left spinning several plates, needing to keep it unique, simple, thematically appropriate, and competitive with other casters. While this is doable, there’s different editions that focused on different angles. So now we have various camps each having their own “right” idea of how psionics should be.

(For the record I have been working on my own take of psionics for 2e, mostly just adjusting the point costs and upkeep for each power. I’ll give an update when I can finally playtest it.)

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You’re right. That was pretty much the general gist of their argument.

Personally though, I feel every single edition of D&D got it wrong in some way or another. 2nd edition was the most exciting to use at first, but it had major issues with scaling with levels (which were only partially addressed in the Dark Sun psionics additions).

It’s always seemed to me whenever I go back to an old edition, I eventually understand why they made the changes they did in the subsequent editions. Unfortunately, it just never seems like they ever managed to make the system right.

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Check out the kickstarter then. It’s got some really cool design ideas. The psion is modeled around the warlock class but it gets its own unique sets of features depending on the sublcass as well as the disciplines you take. I’ve got one PC who uses the Arcanis Psion class in Dark Sun and it runs great. The mechanics definitely have a unique feel to them, so it doesn’t feel like you are playing a spellcaster.

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Basing off of warlock is still just another coat of paint on magic, in my opinion.

I think they really need to rethink what psionics are. I mean, in D&D you have several themes lumped together:

  • mental power
  • dreams
  • ectoplasm
  • astral projection
  • other psychic phenomena (as modeled after real world claims and stories)
  • Jedi (soulknife, d20 Saga edition)

Looking at the history of psionics, one will find that it is just as muddled:

  • psion was originally a unit of mental energy, the term was coined by a pulp magazine writer from the Greek letter PSI and the associated meaning of the mind.
  • psionic originally was a combination of psi and electronic, and referred to machines that used units of psion to function.
  • most of the original conceptions of psychic phenomena were based off of stories containing magic, but were refitted for the ages of science and reason, thus they needed something not magical or mystical, something different and special and not overused like magic (even back then they thought magic was overused! )
  • the psychic phenomena identified throughout the ages of reason and science became the root form of psionics or psychic phenomena as we understand it today, and what most fantasy and scifi creators use as the basis of mental powers in their works, including D&D.
  • in particular, there are certain authors in Appendix N which were noted for psychic phenomena in their books. Andre Norton was also a big name in this regard, given that she actually sat in on some game sessions with Gygax, iirc.
  • in D&D, Conan was considered psionic (unconsciously), that was how he pulled off his amazing feats of endurance and strength without magic. (By way of comparison, Bugs Bunny was an illusionist.)

So, in short, it’s a giant mix, mess, and muddle.

5e is no help, either, sadly. I’m still waiting for an official psionics system to be released.

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This.

Ultimately, no psionics system will ever satisfy everyone, unless it somehow meets all of those conflicting goals - and then a new group of people will be angry about it.

It’s no different than an argument about what’s a better system for running DS: 2e or 4e; the real answer is you’re all wrong, because there is no “better” only “better satisfies my feelings of how DS should run, in my opinion”.

Adding Psionics to 5e is going to be a ‘cluster’ and its gotta be a labor of love for the folks doing it, or they never would have even touched it.

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The korranberg cronical psionics pack is sufficient for 5e, you can also adapt the will and the way, and the complete psionic book to the korranberg system if you wanted.