Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Next Step Thoughts for a B/X Psionics Model

A few weeks ago, I put forward some thoughts concerning my thinking for working psionics into BX/LL. The goal was to make the rules familiar and easy to grasp, and attempt to put into into terms and mechanics that are fundamental within the game (as opposed to OD&D and AD&D psionics, where are an entirely separate system "frankensteined" onto a dissimilar system).

The keystone to making the system seem familiar (for BX players who need to quickly "get" how a psionic system can work easily with their system) was the idea of incorporating a mental class (MC), and rolling “to hit” with psionic attacks. This would be for psionic-vs-psionic combat only, though; "to hit" rolls are not needed vs. non-psionics, but non-psionics do get a saving throw based on their INT and the range of the attack (this is actually something that comes from OD&D). As for MC, I see it being based on the defender's intelligence and their level as a psioncist.






There would be a separate attack table for psionic attacks based on attacker's psionic level and defender's MC (and it would look just like a standard attack table). Also, combinations of attack and defense modes would just affect the defender's MC while in that mode (e.g., if an attacker were to use an Ego Whip attack vs. a Mind Blank defense, the defender would suffer a +5 MC penalty against that attack).

In this model, any monster with psionic powers would have to be given a psionic level specifically for psionic attacks/defense (in addition to its normal HD/AC, which would still be used for determining physical attacks). This BX system would still need some sort of "psionic energy points" in addition to level determination. I'm probably going to take a cue here from the 2e psionicist, with each level giving the psionicist about 10 additional energy points (give or take a few based on WIS). Using this standard, a monster like the 1e shedu with a psionic ability of 70-100 would attack defend on mental attacks as a 7th-10th level psionicist (which seems about right for a 9+9 HD monster). The su-monster, on the other hand, while only having 5+5 HD, would attack as a 12th level psionicist (since it has a psionic ability of 120).

Ultimately, my goal is to be able to quickly convert 1e psionic information (particularly for monsters) into a simple to use BX system (that could be handled in less than a dozen or so pages).


  1. So does the following pretty much sum-up the plan?:

    ... to let everyone use the psionic monsters (and their printed psionic stats) from the Monster Manual (Fiend Folio, Eldrich Wizardry, etc.)

    ... and let PCs have access to the printed psionic abilities (in PHB, etc)

    ... but to create a new (alternate) rule-set around Psionics. One that
    (a) is simple to understand, use, and run
    (b) opens the door for psionics for those who prefer the B/X ruleset
    (c) is edition-agnostic enough for 0e & 1e to use it as well ?

  2. That's why you is editor, and I is just writer.
    (And, yes, that's about as concise as it can get.)

  3. I was recently thinking about designing a simpler model for psionic combat as well. I like psionic abilities, in theory. To me, they don't fit in a "Sword & Sorcery" campaign but are quite at home in "Weird Fantasy." I just don't enjoy the rules in Eldritch Wizardry or AD&D.

    I took some inspiration from Metamorphosis Alpha/Gamma World and expanded on the system. My idea would use Wisdom to determine a character's Mental Defense (your "Mental Class"). Mental Strength is based on Intelligence and modifies how much damage is caused in a mental attack. Charisma would modify the psionicist's mental "to-hit" score. In my mind, Charisma represents the strength of one's ego and the ability to enforce one's will on others.

    1. Those are all good thoughts. The reason I used INT above to determine Mental Class, is because in OD&D (and AD&D), it's actually the determining factor in saving throws for non-psionic characters. It seemed to keep consistency with this by basing MC on INT. I did give CHA some consideration, and CON as well. But it seemed counterintuitive to the nature of BX to have too many attributes influencing things (especially in the context of character class). So INT is my "defensive" attribute, and WIS "offensive" (e.g., psionicists with a high WIS score get a bonus "to hit" on psionic attacks, and WIS gives additional energy points per level, like CON does for hit points).

  4. I designed a B/X psionics system a while back, and have been using it in my campaign. The psionic combat system I'm using is almost identical to what you describe, apart from the way the MC is calculated. (In my system, MC = psionic strength points.)

    1. I'm really interested to see what you've done. As I get closer on mine, I may reach out to you to compare systems and advise from your experience on mine.