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    Canonfire :: View topic - AD&D 2nd - Experiences using the psionics rules, compare
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    AD&D 2nd - Experiences using the psionics rules, compare
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    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Mar 21, 2007
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    From: two strange quarks short of a graviton....

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    Fri Aug 14, 2020 6:57 am  
    AD&D 2nd - Experiences using the psionics rules, compare

    What experiences or stories do you have running the AD&D 2nd edition psionics rules found in the Complete Psionics Handbook, Player's Option: Skills & Powers, and/or Dark Sun setting materials?

    What about the psionics rules did you find easy to understand, or hard to understand, and why?

    How do the psionics rules of this edition compare with other editions in your experiences?

    What would you constructively change to improve the psionics rules in this edition?

    (Please note: removing the psionics rules is not a valid answer for the purposes of any of these questions! If you would really prefer to remove the psionics rules, please don't reply at all.)
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    Last edited by nijineko on Wed Aug 19, 2020 10:53 am; edited 1 time in total
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 20, 2004
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    From: London, England

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    Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:56 am  

    Hi nijineko, in my last 2e campaign I had a player who was desperate to use psionics. In the end I relinquished and allowed them to manifest a couple of psionic abilities and no ability to launch a psionic attack. Even with these greatly reduced abilities I could see clear issues. In a setting like Dark Sun where psionics are more integrated into the world there are more defences against such abilities. In a setting like Greyhawk a psionicist will find few adversaries that have a MAC that can't be easilly overcome. Some of the psionic abilities don't even allow a save if the psionicist passes their MTHAC0 roll.

    Going forward, I'd be reluctant to allow a player access to the psionicist class without putting more thought into curbing the power in-balance. I'm not sure off hand if protective items such as rings of protection increase an MAC but that might be a start. I think allowing psionics in a setting like Greyhawk also requires the DM to really get on top of how magic and psionics interact. In the interim, I guide a player interested in psionics towards the mentalist specialist wizard introduced in Spells & Magic or even the 1e monk class.

    It's definitely something I'd like to think more about when I have time though due to a number of interesting psionic adversaries such as mind-flayers.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Aug 19, 2020 10:52 am  

    Wolfling wrote:
    It's definitely something I'd like to think more about when I have time though due to a number of interesting psionic adversaries such as mind-flayers.


    Thank you, Wolfling, for that valuable feedback!

    I agree fully that incorporating the D&D version of psionics into any ongoing campaign, with or without magic, does need both DM and Player(s) to be 'on top of (the rules)' as you indicated.

    The psionic rules (for various historical reasons) have mostly been different from the rest of the D&D system and the fact that magic and psionics are "transparent" to each other and mostly don't interact causes all sorts of interesting issues... especially in a world where magic is common, psionics is rare, but the psionic character can wear and use magic items and protections the same as everyone else... but where is everyone else going to get protections that are effective against psionics?!

    It's not like that one helm that protects against all mental attacks are a dime a dozen! And even that won't protect against non-mental psionic abilities, as you pointed out.

    Thank you again for your comments!
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    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Feb 12, 2014
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    Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:00 pm  

    For clarity's sake, the original Dark Sun material used PHBR5, and the Revised setting used Skill's & Powers.

    The PHBR5 rules are my preferred set for a variety of reasons, but the first thing to keep in mind is that the system operates like proficiencies, and that should be how they are described to someone who is unfamiliar with them. I've seen complaints about them not allowing saving throws, but that ignores that they need to pass activation checks first, which is why not having saving throws is reasonable (note that most spells that require attack rolls to work do not grant saving throws, like the cause wound spells). The biggest issue is just handling all of the PSPs and such; the book advises making cards with relevant information on them, and that is a good idea.

    The Skills & Powers system is, for lack of a better term, terrible. The MTHAC0/MAC system is more easily manipulated and easier to overcome, it changes the default mental condition of non-psionicist minds to "closed" (originally they were open, because most people have not undergone the rigorous mental discipline that psionicists have to create mental defenses), and the PSP usage for most powers have been changed in order to regularize initial and maintenance costs, but this generally makes most abilities much more expensive over time.

    The worst thing they did in S&P, though, was cause the five attack modes deal "damage" to an opponent's PSP pool, which creates a situation in which the only way to win is to not play. You have to drain an opponent's PSP pool in order to open their mind, but that creates the following scenarios:
    1) Someone with relatively few PSPs can never succeed against someone with a lot of PSPs.
    2) Someone who has to pay to maintain a defense, and pay to attack, will generally spend considerably more than someone who only defends (given the activation costs compared to the damage output of psionic attacks), meaning that if you let an opponent waste a lot of rounds attacking you, they have likely drained more PSPs than they have dealt to you. On top of that, the original point psionic combat was to force open their mind in order to use psionic powers on them; if you have no PSPs left after combat, there's just no point to it any more. You'd be better off just maintaining a defense and walking up and sticking a knife in their ribs.

    While the original system is more complex, it works. The revised system just doesn't do what it needs to.

    Jeff
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    Fri Aug 21, 2020 10:41 am  

    I really enjoyed the analysis of the impact of the slightly different rule sets within 2nd ed. Thank you very much, AuldDragon!
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