The 20-level classes presented in books other than the Player's Handbook have become popular choices for players and DMs. Previous articles in this series discussed how to import classes from Player's Handbook 2, the Complete series, the Miniatures Handbook, and other sources into the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. This installment focuses on psionics and psionic classes in the Realms. The classes discussed are drawn from the Expanded Psionics Handbook and Complete Psionic. This article begins an examination of psionic races -- blues, duergar, and elans -- as a backdrop for psionic PCs and NPCs. Upcoming articles will deal with additional races, psionic classes, and psionics realities across the Realms.
The history of psionics in the Realms is less complicated than it might appear. Previous editions of Forgotten Realms have held different philosophies on the inclusion of psionics, ranging from complete inclusion -- even granting wild talents to numerous NPCs -- to the complete removal of psionics from the Realms. Third Edition and 3.5 adopt a more moderate approach, acknowledging and developing a small number of psionic organizations, races, and NPCs, but without making psionics a dominant aspect of the setting.
Even at its most pervasive, psionics (referred to in the Realms as the Invisible Art or mind magic) has always been a minor aspect of the Realms, limited to a handful of monster races and aberration types (such as mind flayers, yuan-ti, aboleths, and duergar), a small number of humans and drow, and a few odd religions. Psionics is a mysterious power that is barely understood and often completely unrecognized among the general populace. Despite this relative scarcity, small amounts of psionics are sprinkled throughout the Realms.
A handful of psionic races have sizable populations in the Realms. All of the common races contain a small number of psionic characters, but psionic power is much more common among the races described below.
These tribal halflings possess a limited form of telepathy that allows them to mentally communicate with nearby creatures with whom their share a common language. Psionic characters are moderately more common among the ghostwise than they are among other races of hin. Most ghostwise halflings with psionic powers are wilders or psychic warriors, but they are not limited to these classes. The most famous psionic ghostwise halfling is Blaen Haltspear of the Channathwood (LG male ghostwise halfling monk 6/fist of Zuoken 10), slayer of the dragon Amilektrevitrioelis. With his fame, outsiders are beginning to learn of these reclusive hin and their unusual abilities. In campaigns featuring psionics, ghostwise halflings are assigned the psionic subtype.
The githyanki hold a minor outpost in Middle Old Shanatar called Gathchorof, in the ruins of the ancient dwarven realm of Torglor. Under their ruthless leader Frethen Harmswa (Female Githyanki Fighter 10/Psychic Warrior 6), the githyanki are making small inroads into the Underrealms, where they hope to expand their sphere of influence. So far, their expansion is tentative and focused defense. The soldiers of Gathchorof are distrustful of outsiders and unwelcoming to visitors. Rumors are circulating through the Underdark suggesting that the githyanki are looking for some sort of necromantic artifact. The illithids believe that the githyanki lost a powerful phylactery when a rift opened in astral space. The duergar whisper that the githyanki are seeking an artifact that draws the souls of the dead into the astral plane. Regardless of the nature of the artifact, the races of the Underdark are on edge. They fear an increasing githyanki expansion that will shake up the power dynamic of the land.
The most feared of the psionic races are the illithids or mind flayers, alien octopus-headed creatures that dwell in dank places, manipulating the minds of lesser beings. A small but significant minority of these creatures have levels in psion, though all have significant inherent psionic ability. The most powerful mind flayer city is Oryndoll, a massive complex in the Lower Darklands. Ruled by the Encephalithid (NE elder brain psion 20 [telepath]), an incredibly powerful elder brain, Oryndoll is one of the most imposing and powerful cities in the Underdark. Recently, astral travelers have reported seeing strange explosions in astral space near portals originating in Oryndoll. Psychics among them claim to have heard strange alien screaming and have seen visions of an enormous, tentacle-headed being quaking in anger. Some whisper that Ilsensine, the god of the illithids, is angry with Oryndoll, but this is only conjecture.
The most frequently encountered psionic creatures in the Realms are the yuan-ti. They are most common in Chult and are encountered in Hlondeth, but they can be found throughout the Realms. This race is the most usual introduction people have to the invisible art. From minor charms and attractions to full-blown psionic manipulation, those who cross the serpent folk often live (or not) to regret it. Because of considerable interbreeding between yuan-ti and humans in the Serpent Kingdoms, psionic ability is more common here than in other parts of the Realms. This is also because of emanations from the remnants of buried Jhaamdath (described elsewhere in this series). In most of the Realms, less than 1 in 10,000 people possesses even minor psionic ability. In lands where yuan-ti are more common, the number increases to 1 in 1,000, sometimes even 1 in 500. Other human lands with psionic presences will be described subsequently in the "Psionics Across the Land" installment.
Psionic powers are significantly more common among monsters (especially aberrations) than among humanoid populations. A number of psionic monsters exist throughout the Realms, with the greatest concentration being in the Underdark.
About the Author
Eytan Bernstein hails from exotic Long Island and spends his days writing and editing projects for numerous game companies. In addition to his work on Dragons of Faerūn, the Magic Item Compendium, and numerous other projects, Eytan serves as a partner and PR & Marketing Manager for Silven Publishing. Eytan enjoys hunting for gems and minerals in rock quarries, studying religion and theology, composing music, and playing with his many pets. For more information about Eytan, check out www.eytanbernstein.com. Send questions and comments for Eytan here.
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