The wilder from the Expanded Psionics Handbook offers players a chance to develop a short list of favored psionic powers and a special twist (the wild surge) for using them. It's an excellent choice for players who have a short list of favored powers or for players who are fairly new to psionics and don't want to spend a great deal of time poring over a long list of powers.
If you've become familiar with psionic powers, and you've built up a list of favorites -- or if you're new to psionics and you're familiar with only a few powers -- the wilder from the Expanded Psionics Handbook is worth a look. It's helpful to think of the wilder as the psychic equivalent of the sorcerer. The character chooses a few powers from the psion/wilder class lists and uses them well. The sheer number of powers available makes almost any type of character possible. Your wilder can excel at blasting foes into oblivion, ferreting out secrets, commanding sentient creatures, or have just about any other theme you can dream up.
A wilder has a substantial array of psionic powers and a few unique mental tricks. Here's a brief list of things you'll have going for you when you choose a wilder:
The wilder's advantages come with a price. Here are a few things you'll want consider when thinking about a wilder character:
Playing a Classy Wilder
People who play great wilders usually keep the following in mind:
Choose Your Psionic Powers Carefully
Your personal repertoire of psionic powers provides your main tools for dealing with life as an adventurer. Your psionic toolbox, however, is small, so be very careful about what you put in it. To make things worse, it's difficult discard a power and learn a new one in its place. (The psychic reformation power allows you to change the powers you know if you give up some experience points.) On the other hand, you have plenty of psionic power points to spend each day, and you can count on being able to use the few powers you know over and over again each day throughout your career.
To make the best of your situation, stick to powers that you'll want to use often. It's hard to beat offensive or defensive powers for repeated use, but also consider powers that expand your options during an encounter or battle. That is, start out with powers such as crystal shard, energy ray, defensive precognition, or inertial armor, but don't overlook powers such as control flames, far hand, or missive, especially as you advance in level.
When choosing powers, don't forget your wild surge ability. Look for powers that improve with your manifester level or that can be augmented (all the powers in the previous paragraph can be augmented).
Use Your Psionic Powers Often
As noted earlier, you have plenty of psionic power points to spend each day, so don't hold back. It's never a good idea to use your powers recklessly or to expend all your psionic potential in your first few encounters each day, but unspent power points at the end of the day haven't done you or your group any good. It's OK (and advisable) to keep a reserve of points available in case you get in a bind when only a certain power will do (or if you have an encounter after you and your group have retired for the night). As a rule of thumb, keep enough power points on hand to manifest your highest-level power once or twice (if you know or strongly suspect trouble lies ahead, keep more power in reserve). Otherwise, put your powers into play as often as you can.
Use Those Wild Surges
Your wild surge power is what distinguishes you from other psionicists, so use it as often as you can. You always risk disability from psychic enervation when you use a wild surge, but you shouldn't let that keep you from using this important ability. You can reduce your risk by limiting the manifester level boost you claim from a wild surge (though this also reduces the benefits you gain from your surging euphoria ability).
A better way to protect yourself against psychic enervation is to stick close to your friends so they can protect you if you become dazed after a wild surge. If you find yourself facing danger alone, it's best to avoid wild surges unless the benefits you gain offset the risks. Also avoid wild surges in any situation where your group must move quickly (either to flee from danger or to make the best of some opportunity) unless one of your allies is prepared to drag you along if you're dazed.
You've got to keep the future in mind when choosing your powers, but that's not the only time a little foresight will help. Remember that psionic powers aren't the only tools you have at your disposal. A few weapons, alchemical items, and other equipment can greatly expand your options.
Also remember that you are among your party's most vulnerable members, especially when psychic enervation strikes. Make sure you have a proper place in the party's marching order -- preferably in the middle where you have at least one ally between you and your foes.
Remember Your Friends
As a wilder, you literally run on emotional energy, but don't let that get the better of you. You can be passionate about your abilities without being foolhardy or pushy. Learn to use your powers to help your whole party succeed, and remember that you need the rest of your party for protection.
The Party's Front Line: The rogue, ranger, bard, or monk in your group will often serve as a scout for the rest of the party and locate your foes for you to attack with your powers. These characters, along with the party's more heavily armored types (particularly fighters and paladins) also form a fighting line that keeps enemies away from you. Be ready to support those characters with your powers in case they get into trouble. When manifesting your powers, be careful to aim them so your friends aren't caught in their destructive effects. Nothing wears out your welcome faster than misaimed powers that hurt friends as well as foes.
Front-line characters are in the best position to protect and aid you when psychic enervation strikes. Be sure these characters know that you'er prone to becoming dazed when you push yourself too hard, and stay close to them in case you become incapacitated.
Spellcasters and other Manifesters: You probably aren't the only character in your party who can wield psychic powers or spells, so don't act as though you are. Arcane spellcasters can produce many effects that are similar to what you can produce. Divine spellcasters have potent spells, too. Other psionic classes, such as psychic warriors, have power lists that are slightly more limited but probably more focused than yours.
Learn what spells and psionic powers are available in your group and be ready to fill in the gaps in each character's capabilities if you can. When your capabilities overlap with another character's, try to divide tasks between you in some equitable manner. For example, if you have a collection of attack powers good for blasting foes, ask the spellcasters and other manifesters in your group to handle other tasks such as transportation, information gathering, and defense. Blasting foes can be fun, however, so don't hog all the action. You might divide the battlefield into sections that different characters can cover, or develop a sequence of attacks that can really hurt a foe. For example, you might use telekinetic thrust to bombard a dangerous foe with physical objects while your allies hammer the same opponent with energy or mind-affecting attacks.
Some Key Equipment
No matter how carefully you choose your psionic powers, you still rely on your gear to reach your full potential. The essentials for you include:
About the Author
Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and was the Sage of Dragon Magazine for many years. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (rabbits and deer are not Skip's friends) or works on repairing and improving the century-old farmhouse that he shares with his wife, Penny, and a growing menagerie of pets.
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