Monday, September 1, 2014

Answers to some of your questions concerning my BX Psionics System and Mystic Class

After my post yesterday, many of you had some good questions that you shared via comments on a couple of different G+ posts. So I've decided to address them here, today, so everyone can see the answers (and the questions).

What about the crown chakra?
I really debated this during the development of my chakra-discipline concept. My feeling was that the first six chakras coincided rather seamlessly with the 6 established psionic disciplines. I have not included the crown as of this moment, but here's my general thinking regarding the 7th (crown) chakra... the powers granted through knowledge of the 7th chakra will be part and parcel of the pathway to becoming immortal (and therefore, are not accessible by most mortal creatures). Will I ever flesh out this "immortal pathway for mystics"? Shakes Magic 8-ball... "Ask again later." For now, it will likely be a reference to the idea and concept of a 7th (crown) chakra, but without mechanics.

Will it support wild psionics?
They way I see it, any system will support wild psionics, because they're wild (and, therefore, outside the context of standard rules). The real question is, "Should it support wild psionics?" My simple answer to that question is, "No, because it goes against the simplicity that I love about BX D&D." To me, wild psionics are like feats and player options... if I wanted them, I'd use 2e. Now, that being said, there will likely be an appendix for determining wild psionic abilities, because I think a lot of DMs would like to include them. Besides, how much space could it take to say, "If your INT and WIS are this, and your class is this, and you roll this on table I, then roll on table II and... BAM! You've got a wild psionic power."

Where does it fit, powerwise between 1st (wild and all over the place) and 2nd edition (too few points to accomplish much of anything compared to even low level casters)?
This is where I think I've really hit the sweet spot... a nice balance between the two. Mystics gain abilities over time (like spellcasters), accessing different types and grades of abilities as they grow in experience level. The Psionic Strength Point (PSP) cost for powers are much more "value-oriented" than 2e (meaning, the PSP costs are generally more reasonable, there are little-to-no "maintenance" costs, and the duration of many of the abilities are more akin to Oe and 1e than the terribly stripped back 2e versions). The real key to the system is the determination of PSPs, which is treated similarly to determining hit points (with the die being used determined by the mystic's WIS score)—a mechanic which is generally more liberal with PSPs than 2e, unless you have a really low WIS score (in which case you have no business choosing to be a mystic anyway).

And now answers to a couple of questions you haven't asked yet, but are bound to...

Why is Mental Class (MC) based on Intelligence rather than Wisdom?
In some contexts, I could definitely see Wisdom related to concepts like Willpower, and using WIS to determine MC might make sense. However, I began by looking deeply at why saving throws vs. psionic attacks in Oe/1e were based on Intelligence*. My take on this is that the concept of "awareness" is related to Intelligence (the ability to "note" things, to me, is a function of knowledge... "knowing what"; this is "reactive" function related to comprehension). Wisdom, by comparison, is more a function of "knowing why" (a "proactive" function which relates to focus and devotion). So in the case of noting a mental attack, it is more important to know "what" (i.e., "an attack") and be reactive, then to know "why" ("because the person attacking you has psionic ability") and be proactive. Therefore, in this system, INT affects defense (reaction) against mental attacks, while WIS affects accuracy and damage (proaction) with mental attacks. (I well expect that many of you will see these two concepts as exactly opposite the way I see them.)

* It's worthy to note the first appearance of the Intelligence-based psionic saving throw dates to the introduction of the Mind Flayer in Strategic Review #1 in the Spring of 1975; this is approximately the same time the mystic class was suggested to EGG by Steve Marsh for the inclusion in Blackmoor; the mystic was ultimately not included in Blackmoor, and psionics was made available to "everyone" except elves in Eldritch Wizardry; I have no confirmation the INT-based save came from Mr. Marsh, and instead assume it was EGG's invention; but I will look for some clarification on this from Mr. Marsh. in the near future.

How can the psionic combat system be "optional"?
Simple. Steve Marsh's original mystic class didn't have psionic combat (just psionic abilities; they were akin to sub-continental Indian cleric). Gary Gygax was working on the "devines" in order to have a psionic combat class. Tim Kask cut and pasted the two into one big kludgey system for Eldritch Wizardry. So... you can obviously have psionic abilities without needing psionic combat... UNLESS you're coming up against psionic monsters (especially psionic monsters from other editions that have psionic attack and defense modes), THEN you need psionic combat. The system I've developed for psionic combat is much simplified from 1e (and more akin to 2e), but easily allows DMs to take existing psionic monsters and use them in a BX game. (This is one of those little things I'm very proud of... a "conversion" system to port monsters in from Oe and 1e.)


  1. It should be noted that Tim got everything as sheets in a large bowl and told to work with it. He did amazing work given the conditions. As for where material came from, Tim would get clues when Gary would put the credits together...

    1. Completely agree that Tim did a great job based on the process. Oe/1e psionics may be a daunting system to some, but at the same time, there is an absolute wealth of content in what is a relatively limited amount of editorial space.