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Why psions are so rare in RPG's?

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Meredoth, Aug 24, 2021.

  1. Redundant in fantasy RPGs that already have other sources of magic.

    In "sci fi" RPGs it may be fine, as almost all sci fi is just ancient myths repackaged into a modernist paradigm, and "psions" are just space wizards.
     
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  2. Maxwell's Demon Arcane

    Maxwell's Demon
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    Anything other than hard science fiction like capeshit or psionics is really just another subgenre of fantasy, so the distinction is moot.
     
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  3. Blackshirt Augur

    Blackshirt
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    As others have said, psionics are absolutely redundant in a setting that already has magic. It may be a different source of magic just as clerics derive their powers from the divine instead of the propane arcane. To make psionics distinct you would have to eliminate all mind affecting spells from a wizard's spell book which would not go over well. Otherwise there's just too much overlap.
     
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  4. Maxwell's Demon Arcane

    Maxwell's Demon
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    Redundancies are a good thing, so long as they function differently mechanically. That gives you the option to flavor different settings through varied mechanics, and helps shake up the monotony. You don't have to make ersatz Middle Earth or knock-off Medieval Europe every time.
     
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  5. Blackshirt Augur

    Blackshirt
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    Not much of a redundancy then is it
     
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  6. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    I always enjoyed the entry for the Quazar Dragon in the April 1985 issue of Dragon Magazine.

    PSIONIC ABILITY: Psionics? How do you spell that?
     
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  7. Maxwell's Demon Arcane

    Maxwell's Demon
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    That's a bit reductionist. Why have clerics, warlocks, and sorcerers when wizards already exist? They all shoot magic.
     
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  8. Blackshirt Augur

    Blackshirt
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    Really you should only have clerics and wizards. Warlock and sorcerer are redundant in themselves and should be wizard subclasses.
     
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  9. Maxwell's Demon Arcane

    Maxwell's Demon
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    Just make generic magic-user, with cleric, wizard, etc. as subclasses, then.
     
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  10. mondblut Arcane

    mondblut
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    Fuck off and take your capeshit with you. Anything other than swords & sorcery or high fantasy are really just another subgenre of whatever fiction that is not fantasy.
     
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  11. laclongquan Arcane

    laclongquan
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    No it's not. In gaming media, redundancy is a BAD BAD thing to have.

    If it function differently mechanically enough, it become something else entirely, not redundancy. If it function NOT differently mechanically enough, people will complain about it being redundant.

    Do you know why Wild mage only appear in BG2 one time and no where else? It's redundant with wizards despite wild surge and two more spells can make it play pretty differently from wizards. BUT IT FUNCTION NOT too different. So it disappear.

    Do you know why not many people choose to play Spirit Shaman? Because it play like Sorcerer but with Divine spell. Sorcerers are enough, people dont want to play its version, even if for divine spells, any more.
     
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  12. Shadenuat Arcane

    Shadenuat
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    They died when mixing magic and science, swords and blasters, cosmic dragons and space ships and aliens with 1 eyed valkyrie babes died.

    Basically when imagination died or got shackled by "reason" and things became derivative, old settings were judged as "immature" and making up new cool shit "too risky".
     
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  13. J1M Arcane

    J1M
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    Aren't psionics just wizards that use spell points aka a mana pool instead of spell slots? Something that is routinely decried as dumbed down by the OP et al when it is proposed as a casting simplification in RPGs?

    Or are psionics something other than wizards with a mana pool?
     
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  14. PapaPetro Omniscient Patron

    PapaPetro
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    I blame D&D for flubbing it way back. Unlike the Vancian system which was successful for magic, the Psionics system from D&D was way convoluted in its inception (eventually getting streamlined in 3ed). This affected the dev zeitgeist over the years making rules for psionics unfamiliar and unappealing to implement.
    When you see psionics in games today, it's usually tied to some simplistic mana pool making it indistinguishable from magic mechanics.
     
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  15. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Delterius
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    because they ought to not exist at all
     
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  16. VHS9000 Novice

    VHS9000
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    In the most scenarios psionics are just "OUR MAGES ARE DIFFERENT" mages. In the case of space setting just grow some balls and call em wizards. Fuck reasons, fuck midi-chlorians.
     
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  17. Tweed Professional Kobold Patron

    Tweed
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    This is the challenge in adding psionics without it just being another flavor of magic. I'm all for burning shit like firestarter, but they need to be able to do things wizards can't and that takes more effort.
     
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  18. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Delterius
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    psions are the monks of magic users. necessarily bad. shamans, mediums and spiritualists are good.
     
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  19. JamesDixon Arcane Patron

    JamesDixon
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    Reviewing the history of D&D Psionics I was wrong. The first appearance was in Eldritch Wizardry for D&D Basic Set. It was published in 1976. It's convoluted and messy while not following the established rules for spellcasters. Psionicists have a pool of points to spend that exceeds what spellcasters can cast spells daily. What makes it even worse is that spellcasters can have psionics on top of their normal spells. It also utilizes a combat system that does not share anything with melee or spellcasting, but is it's own unique system of checking Psionic Strength against a target's Psionic Potential. If the target doesn't have PP then it's a saving throw against psionics. I can see why Tim Kask was not happy with these rules and if he would redo them that Psionic characters would follow regular spellcaster rules.

    AD&D 1E Psionics are just an improved version of the same mess from Eldritch Wizardry in the PHB.

    I don't have The Complete Psionics Handbook for AD&D 2E, so I can't comment on it. Darksun I really didn't play much with either.
     
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  20. SoupNazi rial billionaire Patron

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    More effort? How about less?

    The difference between psionics and magic should be that one becomes, or is, natural to the user, while magic is learned, based on knowledge of arcana, remembering rituals, spells, runes, and still disconnected from the user. Something he harnesses and uses, but does not necessarily own. The wizard, mage, or sorcerer can forget how to cast spells, they can be shut down by tying their hands so they can't make gestures, or muzzled to prevent them from reciting incantations.

    In my mind, for a psionic, the powers are second or even first nature. As they grow more powerful, it becomes completely normal to them; if the power is telekinesis, they no longer even instinctively ponder reaching for a mug of mead with their arm, their first instinct is to pull it with telekinesis. Just like you or I probably don't consider using our arms - you don't go "I'm now going to stretch my arm out, grip the mug, and bring it to my mouth to drink", someone for whom telekinesis comes naturally doesn't think "I'm now going to use my magical ability / incantation / ritual / spell to pull this drink towards me". They just do. Their mind is outstretched, somehow not just more aware of their surroundings, but in partial control of it.

    Then, the environment becomes their body, because they're not contained within their physical form. That mug is at their disposal whenever, they don't have to "wrestle" for control using their arm. It's a part of them, and their perception of their own body expands because suddenly, they can reach a lot more than what their physical form can reach.

    You can train yourself in it just like a person might train themselves to run better, have better stamina, lift more or become more intelligent or perceptive, but it's still natural. You're not practically begging the mug to come to you by "casting a spell". It's yours, and you just grab it. Is there still a chance to fail? Sure, a dexterous person might snatch it out of the air, and your telekinesis might not be strong enough to wrestle it out, just like they might do the same to your arm, and then you might not be strong enough to win the tug of war.

    Unlike a spell which can "fail and fizzle out", where "the fireball simply never even forms", a psion would, in my mind, always succeed at attempting what they want to do. If the object is too heavy, the person's mind is too strong, or someone actively fights them, maybe they can't do it, just like a fighter's blow with a sword can be blocked or dodged; but they never fail to perform, the opponent always feels the psionic "power"...

    Things outside your body become a part of you because they're just as easy to manipulate as your body is. You gain ownership over most things simply by the virtue of having almost total control of them. Again, you're not "borrowing" power from some magic, from a spellbook, or a scroll. You simply do, and if you've trained your "brain muscle" well enough, then you do whatever you want.

    It should take less effort. It should just be difficult to advance in, just as difficult as raising your STR/DEX/INT/CHA etc is.
     
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  21. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Delterius
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    i agree

    psions ought not exist
     
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  22. Yosharian Magister

    Yosharian
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    /laughs in Underrail
     
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  23. Mr. Magniloquent Arcane Patron

    Mr. Magniloquent
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    You would be incorrect. They occupy the same space as esoteric forces of metaphysical wonder otherwise known as magic. Psionics is an attempt to modernize magic by divorcing it from superstition and ritual. These aesthetic differences are weak, while also eliminating the cultural charms associated with magic. This is why they rarely feature outside of science fiction.
     
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  24. J1M Arcane

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    You just described CHA casters, best known as Sorcerers.
     
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  25. Iirc correctly, the most typical "psionic" creatures in D&D are illithids, who are basically alien time-travelers from the remote future, and their former slave species known as the Gith. So even here they are somewhat of a "sci fi" transplant, and are fairly reminiscent of the martians from H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. And Cthulhu, obviously.
     
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