By Bruce R. Cordell
Adventurers speak of a rare breed of heroes who can bend the laws of nature to their bidding through sheer force of will. This mental manipulation is not magical, nor is it the stuff of superstitious gossip. It is the art of psionics. . . .
Youve read the Players Handbook, the Dungeon Masters Guide, and the Monster Manual, and yet you are not satisfied. Why? Because you have an idea that magic is only part of the equation. You saw hints of another kind of power in the Monster Manual and the Dungeon Masters Guide. That tantalizing word: psionics! The power of mind over matter. You knew there had to be more. And you were right.
Welcome to the marvel of the mind.
What Is Psionics?
Simply put, psionics is the art of tapping the minds potential. A psionic character is blessed with a form of innate ability that enables him or her to use mental power to achieve goals or perform tasks that nonpsionic characters can accomplish -- if theyre even capable of doing them at all -- only by using gross physical skills such as brute strength or raw agility, or by using intellect or force of will as distinct from the natural power of the mind itself.
Your characters mind is an infinite metaphorical plane, on which all things are possible. It may be that all characters have within them the potential for harnessing the energy of the mind, but only those who succeed in tapping into that potential can become psionic characters. A psionic character knows how to navigate the mental pathways that lead to amazing edifices of thought and energy. Knowing the path, the psionic character walks it. Like a flare thrown off a star, a psionic power is manifested from the psionic characters energy of consciousness.
Now, you hunger to learn the psionic art. With this handbook, you can. Then let all the world stand in awe of your characters mental might. As you will it, so it is done.
The Psionics Handbook
This book gives you everything you need to create and play psionic characters, including psionic items and psionic foes. It features the following chapters.
Psionic Classes (Chapter 1): This chapter introduces two new character classes: the psion and psychic warrior. The psion comes in six different "flavors," each of which follows the call of one of the psionic disciplines: Psychometabolism, Psychoportation, Psychokinesis, Metacreativity, Clairsentience, and Telepathy. The psychic warrior melds psionic arts with martial arts, and all fear her crystal blade. Psionic characters can multiclass with standard character classes found in the Players Handbook.
Skills (Chapter 2): Psionic characters can use all the skills introduced in the Players Handbook, plus they have exclusive access to a few new skills detailed here, including Autohypnosis, Knowledge (psionics), Remote View, Stabilize Self, and Use Psionic Device.
Feats (Chapter 3): Yet more special abilities for psionic characters, such as Deep Impact, Improved Psicrystal, Inertial Armor, Psionic Shot, Fell Shot, and Up the Walls (to name only a few). Most of these feats are exclusive to psionic characters.
Psionics (Chapter 4): This chapter discusses how psionic characters discover, choose, and manifest psionic powers, along with providing rules for adjudicating special situations. The default rule allows magic and psionics to work with and against each other, but optional rules for making psionics and magic different are also provided. Redesigned rules for psionic combat reside here as well, including five psionic attack modes and five psionic defense modes. Nonpsionic characters have little to fear from psionic attack modes, except for the dreaded mind blast.
Powers (Chapter 5): This chapter reveals almost three hundred psionic powers rated from level 0 to level 9 for psions and psychic warriors. Many powers will be familiar to readers familiar with older rules, though these have been retooled, while many of the powers are completely new.
Psionic Characters (Chapter 6): This chapter shows you how to take your psionic characters in exciting directions with four new prestige classes: the metamind, determined to amass as much psionic power as possible; the pyrokineticist, who doesnt think that playing with fire is at all dangerous; the slayer, who devotes his life to ridding the world of the despicable illithid; and the soulknife, who knows how to manifest mental power in a blade of semisolid psychic energy. This chapter also provides guidelines for creating psionic NPCs of 1st through 20th level (the six varieties of psion plus the psychic warrior) that your characters may encounter, befriend, or fight.
Psionic Items (Chapter 7): Both psionic and nonpsionic characters might be interested in some of the items described here. Psionic weapons, armor, dorjes, psionic tattoos, crystal capacitors, power stones, and wondrous items are presented in a format similar to that of the Magic Items chapter in the Dungeon Masters Guide. New categories of wondrous items include crawling tattoos, third eyes, and psychoactive skins. Heres where youll find out about superpowerful psionic artifacts such as the Staff of Ancient Penumbra and the Annulus. This chapter also contains rules for creating your own psionic items.
Psionic Monsters (Chapter 8): Here youll find psionically endowed monsters to challenge all characters, nonpsionic and psionic alike. Favorites from earlier versions of the game, including the githyanki and the githzerai, are provided, as well as several new monsters. Most importantly, a psionic template in the front of this chapter allows you to make almost any D&D monster into a psionic creature.
If youve played earlier editions of the D&D game, youll notice that this psionics system features elements of previous D&D game psionics systems. That said, those features were stripped out, laid out on a game-mechanic work bench, then rebuilt from the ground up.
Some people do not use psionics in their D&D games. This reluctance is usually due to the way previous editions have handled psionics rules. In previous editions, psionics rule systems are add-ons that do not dovetail well with the core rules. In contrast, psionics rules for the new edition of the D&D game are integrated into the core mechanics of the game. A psionic character will be balanced with a nonpsionic character of equal level. Youll be able to multiclass into and out of the psionic character classes like you can with the core classes.
Do not fear for the balance of your game when you use the Psionics Handbook. Have at it, and enjoy.