Chapter 9: Psionics, Exalted Deeds, and Vile Darkness
This chapter presents Faerûn-specific material for use with the Psionics Handbook, the Book of Exalted Deeds, and the Book of Vile Darkness.
Psionics in Faerûn
Because magic is so prevalent on Faerûn, the mental powers known as psionics have never played an important role in its lore. Today in Toril, most people regard psionics as an ability possessed only by specific monsters, such as mind flayers and rakshasas. But in truth, anyone sufficiently dedicated can learn to wield psionic powers.
Psionics and the Weave
Unlike spells, which derive their power from Faerûn's Weave (or the Shadow Weave), psionic ability taps only the inner reservoirs of the manifester. In a sense, each psionic creature is its own Weave, using the magic of its own lifeforce and mind to create psionic effects. Mystra and Shar have no ability to deny psionic creatures access to powers, and they do not control the promulgation of psionic lore and ability throughout the populace of Faerûn.
While psionics does not require the Weave to function, psionic powers are magical in nature. Spells such as detect magic can also detect psionic abilities at work, and spells such as dispel magic or antimagic shell can negate, suppress, or completely cancel psionic manifestations. In Faerûn, psionics and magic are not transparent to each other; they interact exactly as magic interacts with other magic.
Often mistaken for reclusive orders of diviners, enchanters, or other arcane spellcasters, psionic organizations are uncommon in Faerûn. Most of those described here are secretive (or at least circumspect) and small.
Based in the elven city of Evereska, the Kaliesh'erai is a loose association of elves who have a measure of psionic ability. Because many of them have been honing their mental powers for centuries, the Hall of the Kaliesh'erai is one of the greatest stores of psionic knowledge in all of Faerûn, and it is almost certainly the greatest center of such lore beyond the reach of the mind flayers.
Many members of the Kaliesh'erai spend their time in serene contemplation of their gifts, but a faction within the group has become fascinated with psionic items. As a result, the members of the Kaliesh'erai are so keen to acquire more such items that they'll happily buy, sell, or trade them with any visitors to Evereska. A sub-basement in the hall of the Kaliesh'erai contains many laboratories and vaults that hold psionic items ranging from simple power stones to great psicrowns and crystal capacitors. Some say it also holds prison cells where the Kaliesh'erai keep monsters with psionic powers for study.
Campaign Hooks: You can adapt any of the following hooks to draw the characters into contact with the Kaliesh'erai.* Elf and half-elf characters with psionic classes might have been trained by the Kaliesh'erai.
- PCs who come across a psionic item they can't use might seek a buyer for it in Evereska.
- The Hall of the Kaliesh'erai's basement makes a tempting target for thieves -- or perhaps a group trying to rescue an imprisoned couatl, rakshasa, or yuan-ti.
- By accident or design, thieves in the Kaliesh'erai's basement might set free some of the creatures held captive there to wreak havoc on the city.
The College of the Eclipse
Headquartered in the Tethyrian metropolis of Riatavin, this society is dedicated to the advancement of psionic abilities. The College of the Eclipse operates openly from its fortresslike headquarters. Most Tethyrians believe that it's just another esoteric order of arcane spellcasters, and its members encourage that misconception. The college administers entrance exams designed to identify psionic aptitude to anyone who requests entrance, and it offers inexpensive basic training in the Art. More advanced students can also rent living quarters and access to the college's laboratories and libraries.
A graduate of the basic course is equivalent to a 1st- or 2nd-level psion and is called a fellow. Almost all fellows of the college work in government or the skilled trades. Graduates often find work as oracles, sages, or advisors to government officials or trading companies. Almost all are psions, although at least two of the college's instructors are wilders.
The seven regents of the college (all high-level psions) are making increasing efforts to keep tabs on the colleges' fellows. They're concerned about the public perception of psionics, and they don't want wayward psions making life more difficult for students of the Art.
Campaign Hooks: You can adapt any of the following hooks to draw the characters into contact with the College of the Eclipse.
- A character who is ready to take a level in a psionic class can study for a few tendays at the college, paying for tuition but receiving psionic items as awards and graduation gifts.
- The regents might hire adventurers to investigate or apprehend a psionic graduate who's turned to evil.
- A conventional wizard's guild in Riatavin might hire PCs to infiltrate the College of the Eclipse and learn the secrets of its "strange magic."
Exalted Deeds and Vile Darkness
The Book of Vile Darkness and the Book of Exalted Deeds introduce mature themes of depraved evil and lofty good to a Dungeons & Dragonsgame, and some of these themes might also be appropriate for a Forgotten Realmscampaign. Even if you are not using those books in your game and have no particular interest in bringing mature themes into your campaign, you can still make use of the prestige classes, feats, and other material in this section, adjusting the prerequisites as needed.
The feats in this section (as opposed to those in Chapter 2) are all either vile or exalted feats. Because such feats must be granted to a character by some powerful entity of good or evil, they are essentially supernatural in character. An unwritten prerequisite for every vile feat is an evil alignment, and likewise a good alignment is required for every exalted feat. Characters who fail to live up to the ideals of their alignments might actually lose the benefits of their vile or exalted feats.
Like the other rules in this chapter, the new feats here are tied to some of the most deeply evil or profoundly good entities and organizations in Faerûn, including deities, societies, and even specific individuals. When the feat's prerequisites imply a bargain with an evil creature or some kind of arrangement with a good one, it is the DM's prerogative to require characters to perform a special ritual or negotiate a deal to acquire it. For example, the Blessed of the Seven Sisters feat presumes a personal connection to one of the Seven Sisters. Players should not simply assume that their characters can acquire the appropriate connection outside the roleplaying context of the game. The DM should allow only characters who have clearly developed that kind of relationship to take that feat.
Blessed of the Seven Sisters [Exalted]
As a result of a personal connection to one of the Seven Sisters, you have a taste of Mystra's special favor.
Prerequisite: Able to cast 6th-level arcane spells.
Benefit: You may add the following spells to the spell list of one arcane spellcasting class that grants you access to 6th-level spells.
1st Level: Ray of hope, vision of heaven.
2nd Level: Ease pain.
3rd Level: Blessed sight.
4th Level: Sword of conscience.
5th Level: Crown of flame, sacred guardian.
6th Level: Crown of brilliance.
7th Level: Righteous smite.
If you have a spellbook, you may add these spells to your spellbook as normal. If you cast spells spontaneously in the manner of a sorcerer or bard, you may immediately, as an additional benefit of this feat, swap any one spell that you know for a spell of the same level from the above list. After you take this feat, you may swap spells known according to the usual rules for your class.
Favored of the Zulkirs [Vile]
Through your position of prestige among the Red Wizards, you have gained access to secrets of evil magic known to few outside the zulkirs themselves.
Prerequisite: Red Wizard level 5th, Corrupt Spell (Book of Vile Darkness).
Benefit: When you cast a corrupted spell, the ability damage you take is reduced by 1 point.
Player's Guide to Faerûn Excerpts