Psions and their ilk have mastered the art of tapping the mind's
own inner potential, and using that psychic energy to knit the Weave
into a magical effect. These mental powers allow the psion to create
all manner of unnatural effects, often augmenting his own abilities
and attributes. The mind is a land of infinite possibilities and
potential, that most people only glimpse in dreams or moments of
defining clarity. The psion knows every inch of his mind. He has
formed neural links to that part of his brain that most people do
not use. More self-reliant and proud than any other magic-weaver,
the psion's power comes from within.
There is only one branch of psionics chronicled below. Before we
reach that point, a few notes:
A note on Spell Points
The rules for psionics have undergone something of a change for
this website. Unlike the other branches of magic, the standard rules
psionics already uses Spell Points (aka power points). However,
the spell point system that appears in the Expanded Psionics
Handbook is incompatible with the system that I have always
used. In order to bring psionics in line, I need to change that
So, here it is. The simple rule you must follow if you want to
play a psionic character. Ready? Here goes: Whenever you see a power
point cost listed in any source - be it for a power, a feat or any
other game mechanic - you must HALF THE FIGURE and round
to the nearest whole number. For example, in the standard rules
third level powers cost 5 power points to manifest. Half that figure
(2 ½) and then round to nearest whole number (3). So a third
level power costs three spell points - the same as magic.
Before I get onto Psionicists, a word on augmenting powers. Characters
that wield psionics can choose to spend more spell points to augment
the effect of their psionic powers. For example, the power Exhalation
of the Black Dragon (PSI p105) inflicts 3d6 damage. The
standard rules state that for every 2 additional power points the
psion puts into the power damage increases by 1d6 points. The number
of extra points a psion can spend is limited by his manifester level.
I like the idea of augmenting powers as it makes psionics different
to arcane and divine magic. But, because of changes I have made
to spell points, I just need to qualify the rules slightly. You
always half the power point figure when playing psionicists using
the House Rules. Therefore the above power inflicts 1d6 damage for
every 1 extra spell point put into it. Remember always to round
up. The Form of Doom power (PSI p108) states "For
every additional power point you spend, this power's duration increased
by 2 rounds." You half the point cost to ½ a spell point,
but then round it back up again to 1 spell point.
So how many power points can a psionicist spend? The maximum number
of power points a psionicist can spend is equal to half their class
level rounded up (are you beginning to see a pattern here). For
example, half an eleventh level psion's class level (rounded up)
is 6. He can use a maximum of six spell points at any one time.
Exhalation of the Black Dragon is a third level spell. This
psion can augment it by paying a maximum of 3 additional spell points
(making 6) and the power would inflict a total of 6d6 damage.
For psions of eighteenth level or less this mechanic exactly equates
with the limitations placed on other spell-weavers. Wizards can
augment spells with metamagic feats as long as the effective level
of the spell does not transcend the maximum level they can cast.
The maximum level spell an eighteenth level wizard can cast is a
ninth level spell (9 spell points); halve the class level of an
eighteenth level psion and you also get 9 spell points.
However, unlike wizards and other spell weavers, there is no upper
limit on this rule for psionicists. A thirtieth level psion could
spend up to 15 spell points in one go. These spell points could
be spent on augmenting powers as detailed in each description, or
by the use of metapsionic feats. So the thirtieth level psion could
take the Exhalation of the Black Dragon power (3 spell points),
augment the spell ten times over (10 spell points) and then apply
the Maximise Power feat to it (2 spell points). The power would
do 13d6 damage, maximised to 78 points of damage, and would effectively
be a fifteenth level spell! For a wizard to be able to cast a spell
of comparable power he would have to select the epic feat Improved
Spell Capacity six times! This is the big, big advantage of epic
psionicists over other spell-casters.
Psionics is a completely different tradition to arcane magic and
the two are seldom found together. Psionics fills the role of arcane
magic in worlds, planes or lands where sorcery and wizardry are
unknown. Because of this most campaigns usually have an either/or
approach to psionics - either it exists to the exclusion of other
forms of magic, or it doesn't exist at all. It is up to the individual
campaign setting to create a balance between conventional sorcery
and the magic of the mind.
Availability: This is dependent on the campaign setting.
Psionics could be very widely available, or it might be incredibly
rare. The availability could well vary from race to race or between
countries. Classes that make use of psionics include: psion, psychic
warrior and wilder. I refer to these classes collectively as psionicists.
Spellcasting: The potential to use psionics is within every
thinking being. In most this talent remains dormant, never manifesting
itself in any discernible manner. Individuals with the inclination
to be great psionicists may follow a different path, perhaps becoming
an arcanist and never realising their talent for psychic spellcasting.
There are two ways in which psionic powers can come to the fore.
They are be teased out by a skilled teacher or, in very rare cases,
they can develop spontaneously.
Psionicists who develop their powers spontaneously often go on
to become Wilders. They have no formal training, but use their powers
instinctively. This makes them extremely volatile and unpredictable.
In areas where psionics is unknown it is probable that all psionicists
are wilders. However, in areas where psionics is a relatively common
force, trained psionicists are the norm. Psions and psychic warriors
are two very different traditions of spell-casters, with a great
disparity in the power of their spell-casting. Both enjoy a regimented
and tutored introduction into the use and control of their powers.
Wilders select their powers exclusively from the psion/wilder list.
Psychic warriors select powers from their own spell list. In addition
to selecting spells form the psion/wilder list every psion must
also specialise in one of the six psionic disciplines. Specialisation
gains the psion a slightly different list of class skills and access
to a list of discipline-specific psionic powers that are not normally
available to other psionicists. The six disciplines and moniker
of the psion are Clairsentience (Seer), Metacreativity (Shaper),
Psychokinesis (Kineticist), Psychometabolism (Egoist), Psychoportation
(Nomad) and Telepathy (Telepath).
All psionicists spontaneously cast can freely cast any spell in
their repetoire. The psionicist reaches out to the weave with his
mind and bends it to form a magical effect. The effort of doing
this is mentally taxing, and causes the expenditure of a number
of spell points equal to the level of power to be manifested. Talents
(0-level spells) are so simple that they do not have a spell point
cost. The psionicist may always cast these spells even if he has
run out of spell points for the day.
Once a psionicist has exhausted all his spell points he must rest
his mind before he can regain more. The psionicist must have eight
hours of uninterrupted rest. He does not need to be sleeping for
the entire time, but he cannot do anything strenuous like engage
in a brawl or a passionate political debate. Engaging in such activity
increases the time he must rest by one hour. If the psionicist manifests
any of his powers when he should be resting (except for talents)
then he can only regain half as many spell points. Note that this
eight hour of rest need not be at night. Any eight hours will do,
and the psionicist can rest for more than one period of eight hours
in a given day.
Gaining Spells: Psions gain access to talents and 1st level
spells at level one, second level spells at level three and to each
successive spell levels at odd-numbered levels thereafter to a maximum
of 9th level spells at level seventeen. Wilders have a slightly
slower progression, whereas Psychic Warriors gain access to spells
at the same levels as bards.
As psionicists develop and improve their understanding of psionics
they acquire new psionics powers. However, their range of powers
is extremely limited when compared to other magic weavers. Psions
know a maximum number of powers at any given level of experience,
and may never exceed that total (see Maximum Spell Levels table
in the Spell Point section). Where
wizards can continue devising new spells until the cows come home,
or sorcerers can choose to learn more spells at the risk of their
own sanity, psions are stuck with an absolute limit to their repertoire.
The limitation in known powers is due to the way in which psionicists
gain their abilities. Psionicists are continually probing their
own mind, searching for new ways to use their mental powers. When
they acquire a new power they have achieved a breakthrough. They
have found a way to make use of their abilities. The human (or inhuman)
mind can only do so much. Sorcerers can attempt to learn any number
of spells, but they can only do this because they are working with
external energies. The psion is working with the energy contained
within his own brain, and there is only so much of that to go around.
When he advances a level, the psionicist gets a number of extra
points he can use to select new powers with. The cost of each new
power is the power's level (zero level powers are free). These new
powers must be of a level the psion can manifest. If the psion wishes.
The psionicist automatically gains his selected powers when he goes
up a level. It is assumed he has been meditating on his new powers
for some considerable time before this. He literally wakes up one
morning with the new powers available to him.
To be clear: when a psionicist gains a level he gains access to
an additional number of spell levels as listed on the Maximum Spell
Levels table. For example, a psion rising from seventh to eighth
level gains an extra 8 spell levels. The psion automatically knows
new powers to make up those eight levels. This might consist of
eight first level powers or any combination of powers that he can
cast - as an eight level psion the maximum spells he can cast is
But I want more powers: Some psychics want access to more
psionic powers than their level would otherwise allow. They want
what's coming to them before they deserve it. Fate has a tendency
to land on these people with the force of a herd of sex-starved
elephants. However, there are ways in which increase their repetoire
beyond the 'Maximum Spell Levels' total.
Psionicists can take the Expanded Knowledge feat (PSI p46)
to gain access to one psionic power of a level they can cast. This
power can be from any spell list, even ones normally prohibited
by the GM. It does not count against the maximum spell limit. The
second method of gaining access to more powers is persuading someone
to cast psychic chirurgery (PSI p126) on you. This
can permanently implant new powers into the mind, but it is costly.
Non-Spellcasting Psychics: Some character classes, such
as the Soulknife, make use of psionics without having a spell point
total or using psionic powers. Other characters with the Wild Talent
feat have rudimentary psionic skills than enable them to select
Psionic feats. Some races are naturally psionic without having access
to powers. None of that effects the contents of this section. Just
as regular magic can be accessed in various ways, so can psionics.
It adds flavour to the setting.
Metamagic: Psions that expend their psionic focus (see PSI
p37) can cast metamagically enhanced powers as standard actions.
This means that they can make use of the Quicken Spell feat to manifest
more than one power in a round. In a change to the rules, psions
can still use metamagic feats without expending their psionic focus.
They may do this because they are saving their psionic focus for
something else, or because they have already expended it and do
not have the time to regain it. Spells metamagically enhanced in
this manner are full round actions. Please see the section on feats
for an explanation of the interchangeable nature of metamagic and
Epic Magic: Psionicists who qualify can select the Epic
Spellcasting feat. Psions require 24 ranks in Knowledge (Psionics)
to qualify for this feat. Note that the psionicist's maximum level
of known spells and his spell points do not increase after twentieth
level. Epic psionicists can select the Spell Knowledge and Improved
Spell Capacity feats respectively to rectify this situation.