What IS psionic magic?

41 posts / 0 new
Last post
Been looking at the new stuff in PH3, and I am having a heck of a time trying to figure out how psionics really figures into the world.  I love defenders, so I looked at the Battlemind... and I really don't know what to make of it in a roleplay sense.  Ardent is similar.  I can kind of see Psion and Monk.  What exactly ARE these characters?

Martial power source characters achieve their abilities through training, practice, and sheer might.
Divine power source characters recieve blessings of the gods
Arcane power source characters embody arcane power
Primal power source characters channel the fury of nature

Shadow power source I have a little trouble differentiating other than "Dark Arcane" but that sort of works anyway...

So what is psionic?  Is it like martial, but mind over matter?  Is it like Arcane but "different"?  What are examples of pop-culture characters that could be psionic?  Where do I come from when creating a psionic character?  Should psionic magic be any more different, rare, or special than martial super-human-ness?  Do you have to be blessed with psionic ability, or could anyone learn given enough training and practice?

I understand that much of this is flavor that is variable by game, but I'm sort of looking at the most vanilla stuff so that way I can adapt it in my game accordingly.

Thanks.
Psionic is simply the power of the mind.

 
To me the martial power source is based on a finely tuned body, lot's of training of muscle nerve memory and the like. 

Psionic power source is all mental, a finely tuned mind.

Neither of them I would consider magic. 

There's lot's of flavour for psionics in the Dark Sun novels. 
It is magic that allows you to use the most powerful processor imaginable:DragonStrike.jpg
YOUR BRAIN!
The Smithy Knew He'd Lost His Groove When Scalding Sparks Left His Chin Too Smooth Dwarvenshave
Think Professor X, Jean Gray, The Force, and your typical Pyschic. Basically Psionics is the power of ones mind manifest in the real world.
The main difference, as I see it, is that arcane power is external whereas psionic power is internal.

Using the default fluff ...
Wizards have to study arcane formulas and texts.
Bards have to sing or play music.
Artificers have their tools and gadgets.
Sorcerers are reliant on a draconic ancestor, cosmic cycles, electrical energy, or raw chaos.
Warlocks have to get their powers from extradimensional entities.

Psionic characters awaken their powers through pure introspection.  They focus on the potential within themselves, meditating and concentrating.

Arcane may be 'magical, but psionics are 'mystical'.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
so I looked at the Battlemind... and I really don't know what to make of it in a roleplay sense.  Ardent is similar.
..................
What are examples of pop-culture characters that could be psionic.



My first instinct is Jedi.
Heck the first paragraph of the Ardent description reads like a Jedi manual.
The Battlemind (and portions of the Ardent, for that matter) strikes me as being very similar in flavor to various anime. No, I'm serious. The attacks of these characters get stronger the more they want and focus on them being stronger. The fluff for both classes mentions that their powers come about frequently by accident, rather than training/schooling.

I'm thinking DBZ, Bleach, and Gurren Lagann especially.
The Battlemind (and portions of the Ardent, for that matter) strikes me as being very similar in flavor to various anime. No, I'm serious. The attacks of these characters get stronger the more they want and focus on them being stronger. The fluff for both classes mentions that their powers come about frequently by accident, rather than training/schooling.

I'm thinking DBZ, Bleach, and Gurren Lagann especially.


Multiclass into Warlord!
"Don't believe in yourself! Believe in me, who believes in you!"
The Smithy Knew He'd Lost His Groove When Scalding Sparks Left His Chin Too Smooth Dwarvenshave

It really is a shonen-style concept; Emotions and friendship are the ultimate power.


 


I frankly find it a welcome addition, if only for all the jokes and references people can make.

Fire Blog Control, Change, and Chaos: The Elemental Power Source Elemental Heroes Example Classes Xaosmith Exulter Chaos Bringer Director Elemental Heroes: Looking Back - Class and Story Elemental Heroes: Complete Class Beta - The Xaosmith (January 16, 2012) Elemental Heroes: Complete Class Beta - The Harbinger (May 16, 2012) Check out my Elemental Heroes blog series and help me develop four unique elemental classes.
Monk: Ka...me...Ha....me....
Monk: Ka...me...Ha....me....


... Ha heh heh, I forgot to multiclass so I have an energy blast.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Oh, jeez. The Ardent at our table for D&D Game Day had Eldritch Blast as his dilettante power, and I never once did that in the background when he used it! Dammit!

The original core books said that this was our game too. It doesn't feel like that anymore.


Multiclass into Warlord!
"Don't believe in yourself! Believe in me, who believes in you!"



This is the basis for my first Psionic character, in fact. He is a hybrid Warlord/Ardent (not sure if I did the notation correctly there) who doesn't realize he is psionic. All he knows is that he has excellent command skills, and that sometimes with a bit of effort he can inspire his allies more than he though possible. The DM and I are still working on the best way to reveal it to him that he's psionic -- at which point, his entire life spent hunting and eradicating the "Mental scourge" will rear up and bite him in the ass
D&D is an old game, with many versions, and a lot of character options in each, and so in order to fully cater to the fantasy and fiction-gaming community properly, they have created classes and options for many different types of characters, not just in personality, but also in sources of power and means of achieving their goals.


Martial power is the traditional fighter.  If you use material and strength to get the job done, this is it for you.  The power of your hand and the edge of your weapon, combined with your wits, will get you where you want to go.

Arcane power is the traditional source of magic.  With the right set of words, and the right gestures, a wizard or sorcerer can bend the laws of reality to their liking.  Arcane power is traditionally facilitated by ambient metephysical power, or by a diety of which has placed a system on a given world that allows mortals to gain abilities beyond their own.

Shadow Magic is a similar set-up to Arcane magic.  Powers of shadow are drawn from the Plane of Shadow, a mirror-world of sorts in which everything is a twisted reflection of the material world.  People who use shadow-magic, however, tend to believe that the Plane of shadow is real, and that the Material realm is but a pretty illusion, temporary and ephemeral next to the eternal power of Darkness. 

Next up is Primal Power.  "The fury of a storm, the gentle strength of the morning sun, the cunning of the fox, the power of the bear- all these and more are at the druid's command.  the druid, however, claims no mastery over nature.  That claim, she says, is the empty boast of a city dweller.  The druid gains her power not by ruling nature, but by being at one with it  To Trespassers in a druid's sacred grove, and to those who feel her wrath, the distinction is overly fine."
This is why I love 3.5, and what 4.0's sourcebooks are missing. 
Primal power is a mix of one's connection to Nature and one's responsability to it.  A primal-power user doesn't control the elements of nature, but if they are willing to pay attention, and maintain the balance, without abusing what they gain, aspects of nature will aid and act on their behalf.

A monk's abilities might be considered martial, but in truth they grow as much in spirit as they do in body.  A monk learns total control of themselves, in mind and flesh, and in doing so can push themselves beyond the limitations of their physiology.  While I don't know if it holds true to the current system, monks of the past could gain such perfect discipline that they could keep themselves from ageing, disease, and other such maladies. 

Where a monk uses Ki as a kind of spiritual energy, another aspect of Ki is Incarnum, which I've yet to see in 4.0.  Incarnum is a type of power manifested from concepts.  Good, Evil, Law and Chaos are manifest as power incarnate

Now then, I think I've ranted long enough to move on to the question of the thread itself.  Psionic power is, as stated above, the powers of the mind itself.  Where the monk seeks perfect control of their body, a psion seeks perfect control of their minds, and in doing so hope to unlock all of the potential powers and abilities of which are latent in their minds.  Telepathy, Telekenisis, Clairvoyance, Psychometabolism, Teleportation and Metacreativity are faceted sides of psionics. (or they were anyway.  I'm behind the times in case you didn't notice.)

There's also Truename Magic, of which rather than bending and breaking the laws of reality like arcane, True-name magic allows the user to change the laws themselves, effectively re-writing the fabric of reality in the same language that the gods used to create it.

Martial- Physical might, knowledge of hand to hand combat and fighting styles.


Arcane- Mental Might, knowledge of lore, secrets, and magic.


Divine- Force of Belief, knowledge of the workings of the (very real) gods ad deities.


Primal- See martial, but add a splash of nature themed divine classes. (Yeah you could multiclass, but whatever)


Psionic- See martial, but add in a bit or Arcane. Not much, but enough to say "they can levitate stuff with their knowledge of tai chi" (again you can multiclass but whatever)


Shadow- Don't lie, it is arcane straight up. Add some eyeliner and stuff if you really want.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"


Martial- Physical might, knowledge of hand to hand combat and fighting styles.


Arcane- Mental Might, knowledge of lore, secrets, and magic.


Divine- Force of Belief, knowledge of the workings of the (very real) gods ad deities.


Primal- See martial, but add a splash of nature themed divine classes. (Yeah you could multiclass, but whatever)


Psionic- See martial, but add in a bit or Arcane. Not much, but enough to say "they can levitate stuff with their knowledge of tai chi" (again you can multiclass but whatever)


Shadow- Don't lie, it is arcane straight up. Add some eyeliner and stuff if you really want.




No, no, no. The Sources are more than just the source of a character's power. They detail many aspects of the character's views on how the world works, and what is important.

  • Martial characters take their strength (not Strength, the stat, just the noun) from their physical training/

  • Arcane characters gain their power by harnessing the magical energy of the planes, either from their study of such magic, their inborn connection to it, or a deal with something that offers them a conduit to it.

  • Divine characters take their resolve from Faith, the trust in the workings of the Gods and (more generally) in adhearance to an ideal or code.

  • Primal characters commune with the natural spirits of the world, working in harmony with them.

  • Psionic characters are powered by internal force of will. They have honed their minds to unlock the unbounded power of the mind. (This is distinct from arcane in that it is gained through introspective, internal connections to the self, rather than from external connections to the arcane power of the world).

  • Shadow characters (currently, only the Assassin) have a direct connection to the Shadowfell, from which they draw their strength. This is distinct in that they take their power from another realm entirely, rather than utilizing the arcane energy around them. In addition, they are more likely to see this world as a pale copy of the true depth of the other realms, whereas a wizard functions much more mundanely. 

There's far more distinction between the sources than your simplistic "martial but with nature" implies. 

It's just Chi, Psionics is like using you Chi.



It gets no simpler than that.
Motto - Don't Damn Me, Guns N' Roses http://adhadh.deviantart.com/ - my dA page adhadh.png

No, no, no. The Sources are more than just the source of a character's power. They detail many aspects of the character's views on how the world works, and what is important.


.....


There's far more distinction between the sources than your simplistic "martial but with nature" implies.


 

Time for some quote magic.


Arcane/Shadow the same thing? You say they aren't, lets use your own words and do it.

Show
Arcane characters gain their power by harnessing the magical energy of the planes, either from their study of such magic, their inborn connection to it, or a deal with something that offers them a conduit to it.


Shadow characters (currently, only the Assassin) have a direct connection to the Shadowfell, from which they draw their strength. This is distinct in that they take their power from another realm entirely, rather than utilizing the arcane energy around them. In addition, they are more likely to see this world as a pale copy of the true depth of the other realms, whereas a wizard functions much more mundanely.


The shadowfell is a plane right? Did I miss something (very possible)? A Wizard can very well take his power from the shadowfell. A shadow power source is then similar to creating a "Swords" power source and then insisting it isn't the same as martial.


You say Primal is totally its own power source, and not at all just martial with a splash of nature divine stuff. Well according to you it is simply divine with a nature theme no martial at all.

Show
Divine characters take their resolve from Faith, the trust in the workings of the Gods and (more generally) in adhearance to an ideal or code.


Primal characters commune with the natural spirits of the world, working in harmony with them.

Faith and deities, nature spirits. Same thing. Both religions. (Or maybe you would like to have a talk with any of the nature spirit worshiping religions out there?)

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

Arcane/Shadow the same thing?

Faith and deities, nature spirits. Same thing.




First of all there are some inaccuracies here. Arcane is not the power of the planes, It's a power that underlies all the multiverse, it's more akin to the Force or Super String theory. Shadow power is a much greater concept than just the Shadowfell, the Shadowfell is only it's incarnation. Shadow and Arcane may seem similar, but that most likely come from them being the opposite of eachother; Arcane is the spark/mojo that brought the universe to life, Shadow is bad mojo, it's what makes the universe bleak. And finally, D&D clearly defines how Primal Spirits and Gods are different, I suggest you read up on it before applying your preconceptions of spirituality/faith.

Yeah, if Arcane = power of planes, then Primal and Divine are also arcane, cause they are from the Natural World and Astral Sea respectively.

You could also argue that since non-warforged/shardmind martial character's need food to give them energy, and food can come from any plane, that martial characters are aslo arcane.

Mcnancy sums up what Arcane is pretty well.

Shadow is more...well shadow and soul magic.

Arcane/Shadow the same thing?

Faith and deities, nature spirits. Same thing.




First of all there are some inaccuracies here. Arcane is not the power of the planes, It's a power that underlies all the multiverse, it's more akin to the Force or Super String theory. Shadow power is a much greater concept than just the Shadowfell, the Shadowfell is only it's incarnation. Shadow and Arcane may seem similar, but that most likely come from them being the opposite of eachother; Arcane is the spark/mojo that brought the universe to life, Shadow is bad mojo, it's what makes the universe bleak.



I'm gonna give the benfit of the doubt, and say you didn't read the sblocked portions of my post. Otherwise you would know that I never said that arcane was the power of the planes, but was using someone else's logic. Honestly, I thought the idea of arcane magic being powered by the planes was stupid, and I prefer to think of it more like the weave from FR was(maybe still is) which is a lot like the force of star wars..


And finally, D&D clearly defines how Primal Spirits and Gods are different, I suggest you read up on it before applying your preconceptions of spirituality/faith.


(that doubt gets big when you quote some of my sbocked post) I don't especially care how DND's settings define where primal spirits and gods differ. A powerful ancient entity that people worship. That is what fuels divine characters, and its what fuels primal characters as well.



"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

Psionic ability is the power of the mind over the material world. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Psionic ability is the power of the mind over the material world. Nothing more, and nothing less.



Indeed, whether the material object you're affecting is yourself (Monk) or someone/thing else (Psion).
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Martial is physical training, ect.

Divine is derived from the Gods, ala, the Astral Sea, where the Gods' dominions all reside (now anyway).

Primal is the natural world, and its spirits.

Arcane is essentially the Feywild. In all the 4e material, the Feywild is described as a major source of Arcane magic, overflowing with life, ect.

Shadow is the Shadowfell, a dark mirror to Arcane magic, just like the Feywild and Shadowfell are mirrors to the natural world.

On the first page of PH3, its described that Psionic energy comes from the Far Realm, leaking through a half-closed portal, much like the Abberrations.

With the exception of Martial, its all about what Plane you draw the energy you manipulate from.
In the words of Tenacious D:

how 'bout the power to kill a yak? from two hundred yards away!
with mind bullets!

Tibis Refugee of many worlds
In the words of Tenacious D:

how 'bout the power to kill a yak? from two hundred yards away!
with mind bullets!



Bravo. Sucks no one cared for my joke, but this is just as good if not better. ^_^
The Smithy Knew He'd Lost His Groove When Scalding Sparks Left His Chin Too Smooth Dwarvenshave
I'm gonna give the benfit of the doubt, and say you didn't read the sblocked portions of my post. Otherwise you would know that I never said that arcane was the power of the planes, but was using someone else's logic. Honestly, I thought the idea of arcane magic being powered by the planes was stupid, and I prefer to think of it more like the weave from FR was(maybe still is) which is a lot like the force of star wars..

I don't care who said it, it was wrong
(that doubt gets big when you quote some of my sbocked post) I don't especially care how DND's settings define where primal spirits and gods differ. A powerful ancient entity that people worship. That is what fuels divine characters, and its what fuels primal characters as well.

If you don't care about how D&D's setting works then stop complaining about it.

If you don't care about how D&D's setting works then stop complaining about it.





There is a difference between how a setting works, and how a mechanic is justified. A setting says "A god is a ___, a primal spirit is a ___". That is how it works in that setting. Officially, WoTC has put out stuff for 4 4th edition settings. (Points of light, FR, Eberron, and Dark Sun). Each of those settings works things differently and can totally contradict one another on how gods and primal spirits differ and interact. Each of those settings keeps the mechanics the same. No matter the setting, a divine character draws power from their diety, and a martial character draws their power from their skill with a sword. In each of those settings, the dieties, rights, and rituals for the various divine sects functions differently.

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

Psionics is saying "I could kill you with my mind, you know."

Are you implying that D&D's mechanics should be able to be thematically justified within any setting that anyone makes? Because that would be impossible to do.

All they can do is explain how it's justified within the default setting, which they do quite sufficiently, and then allow you to change it or ignore it in whatever way you want for your own setting.


Are you implying that D&D's mechanics should be able to be thematically justified within any setting that anyone makes? Because that would be impossible to do.

All they can do is explain how it's justified within the default setting, which they do quite sufficiently, and then allow you to change it or ignore it in whatever way you want for your own setting.




Not at all impossible. See the martial and arcane power sources. Additionally, those settings could lead in with the line "Hey just so you know, in this setting the 'Cooking' power source is actually fueled by 'Grocery Shopping' so whenever you see the word 'cooking' switch it with the words 'grocery shopping'". That would follow one of the big rules of 4e, "Specific beating general". The "Assumed default" setting, that doesn't exist, being the general is overridden by the specific setting you are using.


How do the explain how primal and divine are different in their settings? "You get power from ancient deities, some of whom can be nature themed, or maybe you don't pick a deity and have a religion based on some sort of belief system" vs "You get power from ancient spirits, all of whom are nature themed. You don't pick a specific entity to follow, unless you feel like it, and you simply follow some sort of belief system.


That to me sounds a like primal would be a subset of divine.



"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

Thanks for all the responses guys, I really appreciate it.

I'm pretty much seeing the Jedi thing, which is ok.  I just have one last problem.  Ready?


When a Fighter, Warlord, Ranger, Paladin, Cleric, Runepriest, Warden, or Barbarian make a STR based attack, it's because they are using their raw strength to beat someone

When a Rogue, Ranger, Assassin, or Monk makes a DEX based attack, it's because they are using their agility and accuracy to score the blow

When a Swordmage, Artificer, Wizard, or Psion makes an INT based attack, it is because their knowledge of magic (or psionics) creating the proper effect

When a Cleric, Avenger, Invoker, Shaman, Druid, or Seeker makes a WIS based attack, it is because they are drawing on the force of their will to control their divine or primal magic to attack their foes

When a Paladin, Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Ardent makes a CHA based attack it is literally the force of their personality that is affecting the enemies

When a Warlock makes a CON based attack, it is like they are reaching into their soul, almost harming themselves, to fuel their power.

When a Battlemind makes a CON based attack... what is he doing??
The "Psionic magic" of the Battlemind calls to mind the Egoist from 3.x, whch were psionic characters who focused on the Psychometabolism discipline.

The Battlemind's psionic ability is tied into his own body, moreso than his actual intellect.  The battlemind is chaneling the psionic power within his body to attack, sometimes altering his body psionically, such as changing the density of his hand and arm, etc.

There's some other attacks though that are supposedly him "attacking the mind" of the enemy...which I just don't see.  The attacks are almost all against AC, and...to be perfectly honest...there's a lot of holes in the fluff for the Battlemind.
When a Battlemind makes a CON based attack... what is he doing??



LOL, sorry can't help you there.

I hate the PH3 so much...
How do the explain how primal and divine are different in their settings?



From your point of view, yes, they're the same thing; but thats not the point of view of the default setting. If you can't think of how they're different, then for your own setting, just make them the same thing. I can't tell you how they're different for every setting, because I'm sure there are some settings where they aren't any different.

When a Battlemind makes a CON based attack... what is he doing??



I'm stretching a bit here, I think, but.....


A con based attack could be something like trying the same exact attack a hundred times until it works because your opponent slips (outlasting them).


This is keeping in mind that each round of combat has more than one attack in it. We only roll the one that has a chance of hitting, and the idea that a "hit" doesn't always mean that you physically connect with your opponent and cut them, but simply that you get to subtract from their hit point totals, which represent physical and mental durability, and leftover reserves of energy.



"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

Con for attack makes me think more that you are able to keep a stable swing without losing your steam, even if you aren't the strongest, or perhaps relying on leverage to put power into your swing instead of brute strenght.
The Smithy Knew He'd Lost His Groove When Scalding Sparks Left His Chin Too Smooth Dwarvenshave


When a Battlemind makes a CON based attack... what is he doing??



Channeling psionic energy through his body and into his weapon.  The tougher you are, the more energy you can channel, thus the more likely you are to have an effect on the target (aka 'hit').
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.

When a Battlemind makes a CON based attack... what is he doing??



Channeling his inner strength and resolve. Con is more than just physical toughness, it's also mental and spiritual. A battlemind is tapping into the well of his soul, bringing out his inner fury, etc. End result is that it's very taxing and a less potent will and spirit wouldn't be able to channel it with anywhere near the intensity (IE, less to hit and damage). Think of it like he grits his teeth and screams some sort of kiai or even the name of the attack. It's less about his physical power and more about the inner power he channels into the attack.

A Battlemind who is running low on PP probably looks physically and mentally drained. Dull eyes, panting, body sagging slightly, possibly even minor symptoms like a psychic nosebleed. Even if he has full hit points you can tell he's spent.