Dragon 386 - D&D Alumni: Psionics

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Dragon 386
D&D Alumni: Psionics

By Rob Heiret

In today's free Dragon column – this month's D&D Alumni – Rob Heiret follows the history of Psionics through the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game, from 1st to 4th Editions.  In addition, he previews an up-coming Aberrant monster from Monster Manual 3, the Intellect Devourer.

Talk about this column here.

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Before posting, why not ask yourself, What Would Wrecan Say?

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A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe

Little disappointed by the intellect devourer, as instead of burrowing into skulls it just vanishes into your square causing no real lasting effect. 

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

The compilation of my Worldbuilding blog series is now available: 

Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuilding.

What did you "want" it to do, kill you instantly because it threw out your brain?

I'm definitely looking forward to the return of the intellect devourer.  Bring on the brain-eating walking brains!
Tim Eagon My DDI Articles Follow me on Twitter @Tim_Eagon

What did you "want" it to do, kill you instantly because it threw out your brain?




No. But how about something like the Mind Flayer where it has a high-damage "burrowing" attack, which if it reduces a character to 0hp allows the devourer to use Body Thief. Body Thief itself could trigger off being adjacent to a creature reduced to 0hp and allow it to ride the body using it as a meat shield for a few rounds.

As it's written it's the definition of un-fun. You're already stunned (likely by an ID attack) and it attacks your will. Then you're dominated for at least a round with a penalty on the save. Then, when you do save, you're dazed. It takes your character away for 2+ turns and then gives you partial actions when you can act.

5 Minute WorkdayMy Webcomic Updated Tue & Thur

The compilation of my Worldbuilding blog series is now available: 

Jester David's How-To Guide to Fantasy Worldbuilding.

The article was enjoyable, an overview of the Psionic tradition in D&D. In short, the Psionic power source is just as 'core' as the Druid class, but its fringe mechanics have continually discouraged players from actually using it in game.

My feeling: unfortunately the tradition of fringe mechanics continues into 4e. The decision to use power points in 4e is probably a mistake, and the Psionic power source will probably suffer for it. Tho I hope to be wrong on this point.

Anyway, what caught my eye was the fluff, Psionic comes from the Farrealms. I thought it came from the Natural World as a response to the Farrealms.

Personally, I see both Psionic (bodily aura and conscious mind) and Martial (physical body and use of tools) as 'personal' power sources. Thus Psionic isnt a 'planar' power source at all. It is the power of ones own mind.

That said, the Farrealms would represent an assault on conscious being itself, and in this sense, the Natural World as a holistic being favors its individual creatures who learn how to use their own consciousness to defend themselves.



So all origins can be true simultaneously ...

1. Psionics is mind over mater, the influence of an individuals own conscious being and bodily aura.

2. The Farrealms, being utterly alien to the multiverse, interracts with the multiverse at the fundamental level of conscious being, thus influences the multiverse Psionically.

3. Psionics is a natural response to threats from the Farrealm. If Farrealms is the disease, Psionics is the cosmic immune system. Tho Psionics has always been potentially present within the multiverse via conscious creatures, its becoming a key to survival favors the development and evolution of Psionic powers, adapting to the new threat.
My feeling: unfortunately the tradition of fringe mechanics continues into 4e. The decision to use power points in 4e is probably a mistake, and the Psionic power source will probably suffer for it. Tho I hope to be wrong on this point.

No arguments there.  As the only source to use power points the psionic source is an outsider among the other sources, and as the only psionic class to not use power points the the monk is an outsider to its own source.  Both of these elements could be fixed in time, by the edition of more standard classes to the psionic source and by the addition of non-psionic power point based classes.  All that said, the way power points are used in 4e seems an unnecessary holdover from previous editions that only serves to hinder the source's integration into main-line D&D.

So all origins can be true simultaneously ...

1. Psionics is mind over mater, the influence of an individuals own conscious being and bodily aura.

2. The Farrealms, being utterly alien to the multiverse, interracts with the multiverse at the fundamental level of conscious being, thus influences the multiverse Psionically.

3. Psionics is a natural response to threats from the Farrealm. If Farrealms is the disease, Psionics is the cosmic immune system. Tho Psionics has always been potentially present within the multiverse via conscious creatures, its becoming a key to survival favors the development and evolution of Psionic powers, adapting to the new threat.

Well said.

Exactly where psionic powers originate is something of a convoluted inter-relational mash-up, and that's probably for the best, as it allows each DM (and maybe even player) to put there own personal spin on the theme.
Personally, I am glad they continued to use the power point mechanic. While it is nice to have things become more integrated (and I feel that they still are in 4e), its also nice to throw tradition a bone. I think the new psionics system is both well balanced with 4e in general, and manages to nicely capture the feeling of playing a psionic character back in 2e. I am quite happy with their chosen mechanics...
Well, Im trying to keep an open mind. If you and other players are happy with it, it helps me feel better about it.
I am on the "unecessary leftover" side here. Really, the PPs mechanics have upped some issue on its own on the side of some at-will being better augmented/low lever than some unaugmented/hgh level.
Was it really necessary?

It would have been better, IMHO,  to have psionics a "power thematic" instead than a "power mechanic". Like Encounter powers that power ups under certain conditions that other powers trigger, like placing "Mind Mark"s whit at-will, and more whit encounter powers and daily.

Or, ever simpler, something like "If you hit th target whit another power before the end of your next turn, it become dazed (save end)" as common sight on Psionic powers.
Actually Play'ng: Nothing. My old party is full of short-sighted racists and sexists (on their own admission), so I left.
Really, the PPs mechanics have upped some issue on its own on the side of some at-will being better augmented/low lever than some unaugmented/hgh level.


Your ability to augment is limited, and once spent needs time to come back. That is a good tradeoff. One can transform a at-will to be as powerful as some encounters or dailies, if you throw every augment at it. When you got nothing else left, and the monster respawns on you, this is a last ditch solution.
Really, the PPs mechanics have upped some issue on its own on the side of some at-will being better augmented/low lever than some unaugmented/hgh level.


Your ability to augment is limited, and once spent needs time to come back. That is a good tradeoff. One can transform a at-will to be as powerful as some encounters or dailies, if you throw every augment at it. When you got nothing else left, and the monster respawns on you, this is a last ditch solution.



I think the issue that has cropped up is more with the power level of certain low level augments. Some of the level 1s, augmented 2 points, are as potent as encounter powers of other classes - and remain so even at high levels (due to how powerful it is to drop an enemy's attacks or defenses by 8 or so.) But by high levels, the psionic character might have enough power points to use those low-level augments every round of the encounter - and it is generally better to do so than only use a few higher-level augments.

The core design of the power point system is actually quite good. Certain specific powers, however, are where WotC really dropped the ball.
Really, the PPs mechanics have upped some issue on its own on the side of some at-will being better augmented/low lever than some unaugmented/hgh level.


Your ability to augment is limited, and once spent needs time to come back. That is a good tradeoff. One can transform a at-will to be as powerful as some encounters or dailies, if you throw every augment at it. When you got nothing else left, and the monster respawns on you, this is a last ditch solution.



I think the issue that has cropped up is more with the power level of certain low level augments. Some of the level 1s, augmented 2 points, are as potent as encounter powers of other classes - and remain so even at high levels (due to how powerful it is to drop an enemy's attacks or defenses by 8 or so.) But by high levels, the psionic character might have enough power points to use those low-level augments every round of the encounter - and it is generally better to do so than only use a few higher-level augments.

The core design of the power point system is actually quite good. Certain specific powers, however, are where WotC really dropped the ball.



I agree in a slightly different fashion. I think the powers at low level are good and exciting however i do not think that the higher level powers fit that bill ,with the exception of the Psion, when you compare them to the encounters of other non power point using classes which creates the problem you describe above.
Perhaps this is why psionic at-wills do not increase in power at level 21?

Their at-wills never upgrade, so when they run out of PPs they're even worse off than another  epic character that ran out of encounter powers.
Planes Wanderer
Hmmm. The new developments concerning Psionic - or lack thereof - irritate me.

The Psionic power source will now forever be 'non-essential' in D&D 4e. Why? Because of its fringe mechanics!



I was looking closer at the new 'Essential' series. It seems it will be a kind of PH1-lite, a starter book for D&D 4e that will avoid complicated mechanics.

All of its content will be the 'essential' part of D&D 4e. The two Players books in this series count the 'essential' classes: Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Warlock, and Wizard.

Notice, the Druid class along with its Primal power source is 'essential'. For crying out loud, even the relatively new Warlock class is 'essential'.

The Druid and the Psionic power source entered the D&D tradition at the same time. The Psion should be 'essential' too!

But the Psion class with its Psionic power source is now deemed 'non-essential'. The Essential series creates entirely new builds with simplified mechanics that are appropriate for newbie players. The series must choose options that have easy and consistent mechanics. By definition, the Essential books wont use the new Psionic point mechanic. Hypothetically, the Essential books could have invented a Psion build that actually used the standard encounter powers and didnt use any power points at all, but the rest of the Psion content in PH3 would be just too alien to make a smooth transition from the Essential platform to the rest of the 4e platform.

The fringe mechanics of the Psionic tradition has alienated players from actually using it. Again. And Again. And now in 4e, again.

This continual rejection of the Psionic tradition makes me angry.



It feels, even more so, a mistake to have used the non-standard point system for the 4e Psionic power source. 4e probably should have used the normal encounter power system like all other 'essential' 'classic' classes.

After years of defending Psionic as part of 'core'. I feel betrayed. Because now Psionic is explicitly not part of 'essential'.
It feels, even more so, a mistake to have used the non-standard point system for the 4e Psionic power source. 4e probably should have used the normal encounter power system like all other 'essential' 'classic' classes.

After years of defending Psionic as part of 'core'. I feel betrayed. Because now Psionic is explicitly not part of 'essential'.



I am 100% positive that the lack of Psionics in the essential line has NOTHING to do with its slightly different mechanics. It is because the essentials line is explicitly for those who want a back to basics approach that goes after the fundamental D&D elements. Of which, in the end, Psionics is not 'essential' for.

Don't get me wrong, I like Psionics. I like the 4E approach, at least in concept if not execution. And I think 4E has made psionics core in a way no prior edition has. I think being upset that it is will be excluded from the essentials line - considering this a betrayal - is simply having unreasonable expectations. And I think blaming it on the mechanics is missing the picture entirely.
MrMyth: "I am 100% positive that the lack of Psionics in the essential line has NOTHING to do with its slightly different mechanics. It is because the essentials line is explicitly for those who want a back to basics approach that goes after the fundamental D&D elements."

Wait.


The Psionic power source *is* part of the 'basics' that the Essential is going back to! It was in the first Players Handbook of AD&D. Its even part of the D&D tradition that pre-exists AD&D!

Psionic *is* part of the 'fundamental D&D elements' that the Essential is going after. In the 3e version of the wizards.com website, they listed Psionic as part of the 'D&D Fundamentals'.

As this Dragon article points out, Psionic is just as 'core' as the Druid, having entered the D&D tradition at the same, in the same document. Notice the Druid *is* considered Essential, along with its Primal power source.

Moreover, the themes of magic that Psionic covers are essential! Psychic, force, scrying, prescience, mental effects, illusion, charm, domination, telekinesis, flying, auras, energy control, time control, and their many variations are central to the D&D experience.


Psionic is essential. Psionic is basics. Psionic is fundamentals. Psionic is historical. Psionic is traditional. Psionic is core.

The fact you think Psionic isnt 'essential', is the problem! And the reason you think it isnt essential, is because nobody ever uses it. And the reason nobody ever uses it, is .... because its mechanics are fringe!
The Psionic power source *is* part of the 'basics' that the Essential is going back to! It was in the first Players Handbook of AD&D. Its even part of the D&D tradition that pre-exists AD&D!

Psionic *is* part of the 'fundamental D&D elements' that the Essential is going after. In the 3e version of the wizards.com website, they listed Psionic as part of the 'D&D Fundamentals'.

As this Dragon article points out, Psionic is just as 'core' as the Druid, having entered the D&D tradition at the same, in the same document. Notice the Druid *is* considered Essential, along with its Primal power source.

Moreover, the themes of magic that Psionic covers are essential! Psychic, force, scrying, prescience, mental effects, illusion, charm, domination, telekinesis, flying, auras, energy control, time control, and their many variations are central to the D&D experience.

Psionic is essential. Psionic is basics. Psionic is fundamentals. Psionic is historical. Psionic is traditional. Psionic is core.

The fact you think Psionic isnt 'essential', is the problem! And the reason you think it isnt essential, is because nobody ever uses it. And the reason nobody ever uses it, is .... because its mechanics are fringe!



I think many gamers are of the view that Psionics is not as fundamental to the fantasy archetypes within D&D as, well, everything else showing up in D&D Essentials. The Druid, and nature magic in general, is.

Yes, if more gamers felt that Psionics were essential, it would show up in this product. But I think you are making assumptions that just aren't true. Claiming the only reason people don't use psionics, the only reason it isn't considered essential, is due to fringe mechanics, rather than the flavor of Psionics itself... is willful disbelief.

I like Psionics. But I don't consider it as core a part of D&D as martial, arcane, divine, and primal concepts. And this has nothing to do with the mechanics of Psionics, now or in the past. I suspect the same reasoning is true for WotC and the decision not to include it in the Essentials line.

By all means, champion your support of Psionics in general - if enough people do so, WotC will eventually consider it a fundamental part of the game! But focusing your argument on the mechanics, and blaming them for its alienation, is fighting an irrelevant war. And wasting your energy on something entirely tangential to the actual issue at hand is, in the end, going to accomplish absolutely nothing.

MrMyth: "the only reason it isn't considered essential, is due to fringe mechanics, rather than the flavor of Psionics itself"

For the most part, 4e ensures appropriate quasi-medieval flavor for all its core content, and for Psionic got rid of the technobabble flavor. So, pseudoscientific flavor doesnt exist and isnt an issue.

A few sacred cows survived into 4e, including the name 'Psionic' itself, whose modern derivation is controversial. To be fair, the elements of this name derive from ancient Greek and are appropriate for a medieval theme. It comes from 'soul' (psukhe) and 'moving' (ioun), and can retroactively refer to the projection of the souls thoughts and the ability to move objects by the force of the souls aura. Anyway, 4e Psionic abandons fringe terminology like 'catepsi', but keeps a couple of words like 'ego whip' as an innocuous nod to the D&D tradition.



In 4e, the Psionic power source must focus on the 'essential fantasy archetypes within D&D': namely mental effects, illusion, phantasms, force constructs, charm, divination, scrying, foresight, telekinetic effects, flying, sliding, shifting, energy control, psychic and force damage, and so on. It must avoid being distinguished by ill-fitting and alienating mechanics, and avoid being redundant with other power sources.



Certain archetypes in D&D, in principle, belong to Psionic and less-so to other power sources.

For example, the Bard should probably use the Psionic power source. The class emphasizes mental effects like Charm and telekinetic energy control effects like sonic Thunder damage. The flavor of 'innate talent' without the elaborate 'scientific' training of spellbook magic, works well for Psionic flavor too.

The Monk should probably use the Psionic power source (and yay does!). This class emphasizes mental flavor, especially mind-over-body flavor, and wields the force of the bodily aura of the soul (the 'ki'), and by means of it energy control.

The Illusionist class, which remains unpublished, should probably use the Psionic power source. This class emphasizes extreme mental effects, the subjective phantasms. Arguably, the objective quasi-real manifestations are telekinetic force constructs.

And so on.



Indeed, the themes of the Psionic power source have more than enough 'essential fantasy archetypes'.



It seems imperative, if the Illusionist class uses the Psionic power source, it must use normal mechanics that all other D&D classes use. And must avoid the fringe mechanics of power points. Its the archeypes of Psionic that matter, in this case, mental effects. Not the fringe mechanics.

The Illusionist class, which remains unpublished, should probably use the Psionic power source. This class emphasizes extreme mental effects, the subjective phantasms. Arguably, the objective quasi-real manifestations are telekinetic force constructs.
...
It seems imperative, if the Illusionist class uses the Psionic power source, it must use normal mechanics that all other D&D classes use. And must avoid the fringe mechanics of power points. Its the archeypes of Psionic that matter, in this case, mental effects. Not the fringe mechanics.

Illusionists are available as a wizard build presented in Arcane Power. Illusion, and mental effects in general, are more traditionally associated with witches and sorcery worked with an understanding of things Not Meant For Mortals To Understand, ie, arcane power source. However, divine classes can also achieve this on behalf of their gods, as well as primal classes through nature spirits. Psionics do it by using something on the inside... that they, uh, bring to the outside... I only ever had one psion, during my 3.x campaign, and I didn't have the Psionics Handbook so I just trusted him not to lie to me about what he could do. As far as I was concerned, he was a Wizard That Worked Different.

Just as healing isn't only available from divine clerics, but also martial warlords or arcane bards, so too can mental manipulation come from additional sources. The source is the how, not the what.
Scott: "Illusionists are available as a wizard build presented in Arcane Power."

Not a problem. The Arcane power source is the 'generalist' power source that dabbles in anything and everything, from 'Divine' healing to 'Shadow' necromancy to 'Elemental' fireballs. Its the way should be.

However, the other power sources, like Psionic, Divine, Shadow, Elemental, and Primal, are 'specialist' power sources. If the 'Illusionist' becomes a class, it would specialize in mental effects and force-construct effects, thus be Psionic.



"Illusion, and mental effects in general, are more traditionally associated with witches."

The medieval Norse viking-style 'witch' (seidr) is strictly telepathic, definitively Psionic with 'second-sight' clarivoyance and precognition (spa), and 'mindforce' (hugr) manipulation, including illusion via the manipulation of perceivable reality (ginning).

Anyway, obviously 'mental effects in general' SHOULD be associated with the Psionic power source.



"Things Not Meant For Mortals To Understand, ie, arcane power source."

Actually, as far as Wizards go, the Arcane power source is precisely what 'mortals' can 'understand': the intelligible protoscientific laws and formulas that govern the multiverse.

Arcane is protoscientific technology, including cutting-edge research. Note Wizard and Artificer.

Psionic is the power of the mind, including mysticism of consciousness and presence. Note Psion and Monk.
Why would you think of some kind of psychic witch instead of the shifty old crone that works in poisons and potions and makes deals with the dead or devils? Wizards typically being associated with either madness or dark powers indicates that it's not meant for mortals to understand, and carries consequences for those that try. Granted, this makes less sense in a world like Forgotten Realms, but it's great for a world steeped in superstition. Even though psionics and the Far Realm seem to go hand in hand, a lot of the actions of humans in Lovecraft's work when it comes to rituals is distinctly arcane; it's our pathetic and ignorant way of trying to cope with the insanity of Whatever They Are. In that sense, arcane magic could just be crude psionics.

However, I don't get where you think certain power sources are "specialists." They're the how, not the what. As I mentioned, divine, primal and psionic powers (your "specialist" powers) can accomplish what arcane can accomplish (as in, you could have a party of all divine/all primal/all psionic/all arcane, and each party could do everything the other parties can do). Martial can also do anything they do, mechanically, if plausibly presented. We only have one shadow class and I admittedly don't know much about it; but elemental, which is unused at this time, could easily lead (including heal) and control in addition to strike and defend. Classes have something other than power sources in their design, and that's their role. There is no shoehorned "should" with what power source can fulfill what role, only a "OK, how do we make that work?"

Scott: "Wizards typically being associated with either madness or dark powers indicates that it's not meant for mortals to understand."

The flavor that you describe - the 'madness' of 'dark powers' that 'mortals' arent 'meant to understand' - pertains to the flavor of the Farrealm. Which associates intimately with the Psionic power source, arguably moreso than with Arcane. So even *if* Illusion uses Farrealm flavor, even then, Illusion is *still* well within the provinance of the themes of Psionic.

As far as the Arcane Wizard goes, you grant indirectly, in the official high-fantasy campaign settings, like Forgotten Realms, the Arcane power source does master powers that *are* for mortals to understand. So, that undermines your argument, where Arcane must monopolize mental effects because they are 'madness'. (It wasnt a very good argument anyway.) Psionic is awesome for madness flavor too.

So, that undermines your argument, where Arcane must monopolize mental effects because they are 'madness'.

My argument is that no power source can monopolize anything; or more accurately, every power source can do everything. Additionally, that psionics are weird from a thematic standpoint (in addition to the mechanics) and very unlikely to catch on with Essentials' primary target audience even with standard mechanics.

Druids and wizards are so iconic that anyone can tell them apart, like an elf and a dwarf, even if the player is new to fantasy. Wizards and sorcerers (words that are interchangeable to most people) are more like elves and eladrin, you have to be familiar with D&D to tell the difference. Wizards and psions are like elves and devas; you can tell them apart, but what the hell is a deva?

Ultimately, the supernatural will almost always be attributed to magic before psionics. Jedi are more prevalent (and probably better understood) in our culture than psionics or even psychics, if you want to use a non-D&D term.
MrMyth: "the only reason it isn't considered essential, is due to fringe mechanics, rather than the flavor of Psionics itself"

For the most part, 4e ensures appropriate quasi-medieval flavor for all its core content, and for Psionic got rid of the technobabble flavor. So, pseudoscientific flavor doesnt exist and isnt an issue.



That's only really true in theory, though. For many players, Psionics will remain psuedoscientific in flavor, and thus, divorced from the core fantasy elements of D&D.

I'm not arguing whether or not is should be, I'm just saying that is the way it is from the perspective of many, and that perspective is why it isn't in a product like D&D Essentials... not because of the mechanics.

As it is, many will feel that Psionics is still 'something different', and that core elements of illusion/psychic magic can be preserved via arcane magic as the domain of wizards and bards.

Haldrik, at this point, I'm not sure what you are arguing. Are you saying that we are incorrect when we claim that many D&D players will continue to view Psionics as slightly removed from the core fantasy elements of the game? Are you claiming that because 4E works harder to incorporate it into the default setting of the game, the existing preconceptions of countless players has evaporated overnight? Or are you just saying you wish those perspectives would change, so that Psionics could take a place in a product like D&D Essentials?

The last part, I don't disagree with - I think Psionics does have a place in the game, and 4E has done a good job of making it fit conceptually with the rest of the game. I just don't think everyone's view of it will change that quick. And its lack of place in D&D Essentials is a reflection of that, not a result of having 'fringe mechanics'. If you really don't believe that - if you think ascottbay and I are outright lying when we claim that many players don't view psionics as fundamentally fantasy as druids - then I really don't think there is anything for us to say to convince you.
Myth: "Are you claiming that because 4E works harder to incorporate it into the default setting of the game, the existing preconceptions of countless players has evaporated overnight? Or are you just saying you wish those perspectives would change, so that Psionics could take a place in a product like D&D Essentials?"

*smirk* Something like that.
For me, the flavors of the Jedi and the Force and of the Psionic power source are near identical.

What themes of magic does the Force cover? Medieval-esque, scholastic, mage-knights and mage-sages, innate intuitive power, mysticism of consciousness and presence, mental effects, telepathy, precognition, scrying, thought control, charm, domination, suggestion, psychic damage, illusion, force effects, telekinesis, energy control, levitation, flying, force constructs, soul projection, bodily aura, etcetera, etcetera. It is the same themes as Psionic.

If WotC decided to discontinue the term 'Psionic power source' and replaced it with the 'Force power source' it would be a difference in name only.

(I just pretend references to midichlorians arent happening.)

Of course, 'Force' flavor isnt the only flavor that resonates with Psionic, but it is a central one. Other Psionic flavors include the Lovecraftian unraveling-reality flavor that inspires the Farrealms and Aberrants. Historical Medieval themes can include: the psychic witches of the Vikings as vicious telepaths who kill their enemies with suggestions and illusions, and as revered prescients whose foretellings save their communities from surprising dangers, Daoist monks who wield the bodily aura and who unite with the aura of the universe, Hindu gurus as philosophers of the mind, Jewish kabalists who unite human and universal wisdom, and so on. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Scott: "My argument is that no power source can monopolize anything; or more accurately, every power source can do everything."

So ... the Psionic power source can do Illusions.

So, it is ok if the Illusionist class uses the Psionic power source.
I think you'll find that, while psionics can replicate the powers of illusionists, the illusionist class is inextricably tied to the arcane power source. That's just the way that most people envision the ullusionist class.
Don't believe everything you think Ranger.jpg
Jamison: "The illusionist class is inextricably tied to the arcane power source. That's just the way that most people envision the ullusionist class."


Theres nothing 'inextricable' about it.

In previous editions, the only magic power sources were Divine and Arcane. But now ...

The Primal power source can extricate the bulk of the nature-magic themes from the Divine and Arcane power sources for its own thematics.

The Shadow power source can extricate the bulk of the necromantic themes from the Divine and Arcane power sources for its own thematics.

The Psionic power source can extricate the bulk of the psychic-force magic themes from the Divine and Arcane power sources for its own thematics.
Sorry, when I see illusionist, I picture a little arcane gnome in my mind.

The mechanics certainly support psionics as a possible power source...but you are still stuck with what people envision when they picture an illusionist, and psionics is just not the first thing to come to mind.
Don't believe everything you think Ranger.jpg
Jamison: "psionics is just not the first thing to come to mind"

Traditional D&D players rarely used Psionic, even tho it is core. Which goes back to the problem of fringe mechanics.

In 4e, if the Psionic power source stays with normal mechanics and focuses only on thematics, then it would be easier for traditional D&D players to accept 'Psionic' as a 'specialized school of magic', which is what it is.

If the Illusionist class uses the Psionic power source, it should use normal mechanics. I think the mental flavor would give the magic of the Illusionist a cool vibe.
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