Power point and Vancian magic systems


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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So I've been reading the psionics post and there is a lot of argueing over should/shouldn't paizo release psionics, should they be PP/Vancian/other system, and a whole bunch of other arguing. All of this got me thinking about the different options for magic systems in games, and which I like or dislike and why.
Personally I like a power point system because that truely is what I think the magic system should be like. As I see it the pp system gives more flexibility to choose spells as you see fit, and gives the potential for lots of rules that the vancian system doesn't allow. Examples of rules that are easier to do with pp rather then the vancian magic system is overexerting yourself (take subdual or normal damage to gain pp, say 2 subdual or 1 normal for 1 pp) which helps prevent the spellcaster just sitting in a corner and doing nothing because they ran out of spells for the day, or sacrifices to power magic (1 pp/2 hp the sacrificed creature had).
One system I really liked was what the epic level magic WotC released where you had X epic spells per day and you knew Y spell seeds and you could combine and create new spells on the fly. The idea that you needed to make a spellcraft check to be able to cast spells also made it really flexible allowing you to make an extremely powerful spell, but unless you were a high enough level and invested enough ranks into spellcraft you would not be ableto cast it.
The vancian system is my least favourite magic system that I have encountered because it feels too rigid (granted I find the idea of preparing spells in advance to feel really weird) and foreign. All the fantasy literature I have read would pretty much have their wizards be sorcerers by D&D standards.

What does everybody think of the different magic systems present in D&D/Pathfinder or any other game? I heard lots of comments about PP being broken in the other thread, so if you believe this, could you please explain why?


I still say the Power Point system needs a fancier sounding name. Otherwise, how can it compete with "Vancian"?


I think the system is fine as-is. Power point systems seems to favor novaing and the 15-minute workday, though it has it's merits too.

And there's one big piece of fantasy literature that uses the vancian system: the work by Vance. :)

But yes, much of the fantasy literature presents mages somewhat like sorcerers, or something in between sorcerers and wizards.


Power point system is better at everything. It's more versatile, more elegant, easier to understand, and drastically more in line with how magic works in just about every non-Dying Earth fantasy medium in existence.

Also, the 15 minute work day was created based around Vancian casters. Psions were never even brought up.

The nova, as well, is very fallacious, as it ignores the most powerful thing Vancian casters have - autoscaling.


Dork Lord wrote:
I still say the Power Point system needs a fancier sounding name. Otherwise, how can it compete with "Vancian"?

How about the Mana system as opposed to the Vancian system?


I like Mana point systems. They are simple to understand, facilitate caster flexibility and if done correctly can even limit caster power rather than inflate it.

Want to cast fireballs all day go right ahead but you have to pay X mana points to cast the spell and that only gives you a d6 fireball, want to scale it to 10d6 well thats additional mana points.

Once you figure out the cost of variable strength spells then you can properly cost some of the fixed effect spells so that they cost more or less than a max strength blast spell for that level of spell.

Metamagic would become dead simple, you could apply at will but it would cost +x mana points. Quicken would probably be prohibitively expensive for instance.

Further you can introduce cool flavor rules like mana battery items and overchanneling where the caster takes physical damage for exceeding thier mana pool.

I also like it because you can introduce a mana regeneration rate so that you have a fixed pool but if you rest for an extended period you might recover your inner reserves.


Honestly I am good with either or. Both systems have good things about them, but both do change how magic works and the very feel and flow of the world.

My issues is the two do not mix well. In a game I feel all classes should use the same casting system not different casting systems.Which has always been my issue with the point system, it does not fit the system.


While I feel this is another well intended thread, there are a lot of Psionics/Magic threads around right now erupting into argument over things that have already been debated to death for years now.

That being said, I like the PP/Mana point systems as well. Before I really try and figure out what Paizo will or won't do with such systems, I am waiting to see what Paizo does the with "Words of Power" magic system that is going to be featured in Ultimate Magic.

Where Paizo is going with this new alternate magic system might be something even better, and from what I heard SKR mentioning about it a little bit back, its far closer an ideal to the kind of magic you read about in books. But we'll see.

Heres hoping they do an Alpha and Open Betatest of that system!

Liberty's Edge

Now that someone's brought up caster level, it gives me an interesting way to deal with auto-scaling spells...
*runs away to type haphazard notes*


iLaifire wrote:
Dork Lord wrote:
I still say the Power Point system needs a fancier sounding name. Otherwise, how can it compete with "Vancian"?
How about the Mana system as opposed to the Vancian system?

There's always another option... take away the fancy sounding name that the memorization system has going for it!

Power Point or Status Quo? Those both sound mundane enough.

If you want them both to sound fancy, Mana system doesn't sound quite pseudo-intellectual enough for my tastes. How about something like "Variable Depletionist" system. Too long?

This is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed, though.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

The greatest disadvantage the power point system has is that it's not the system that everyone learns when they start playing Pathfinder. We already have a system for handling spells (and make no mistake, if/when we do psionics, they'll be handled as spells, not powers), and rewriting that system into a "same but different" system that basically forces players of psionic characters and GMs to re-learn an entire new system that, in the end, is supposed to accomplish the same effect as the system they already know, is in my opinion a waste of energy and resources.

That said, I know that a lot of fans of psionics DO like the point-based system. One of the most important things we need to do if and when we decide to tackle psionics is to figure out how we handle that fact. At this point, I would say that we'd just be up front about the fact that we're NOT going with a point based system and lay all our cards on the table, as it were. That way, for folks who want only a spell-point system, they'll know from the start that they're not getting that.

I am a pretty big fan of the FLAVOR of psionics, but not a fan of the point based system by which they've always functioned, in other words.

If you're a fan of psionics as a flavor of power, then I feel absolutely confident that Paizo can deliver to you a psionics solution you'll enjoy. If you're a fan of the point system, I'm confident you'll be disappointed.

Whether or not the disappointed fans outnumber the ones who won't mind or would welcome a move to the Vancian system (likely spontaneous casting like a sorcerer or oracle or bard) for psionics is one of the more complex elements of the problem we need to wrap our heads around. Because if the disappointed customers outnumber the ones who want it... that might convince us to leave psionics alone entirely and leave the development of them as a point-based system to a third party publisher. Or perhaps to put them off EVEN FURTHER and include them not in a psionics book but as part of some nebulous "Unearthed Arcana" type book we might do many, many years from now that might explore variant rules systems.


James Jacobs wrote:

The greatest disadvantage the power point system has is that it's not the system that everyone learns when they start playing Pathfinder. We already have a system for handling spells (and make no mistake, if/when we do psionics, they'll be handled as spells, not powers), and rewriting that system into a "same but different" system that basically forces players of psionic characters and GMs to re-learn an entire new system that, in the end, is supposed to accomplish the same effect as the system they already know, is in my opinion a waste of energy and resources.

That said, I know that a lot of fans of psionics DO like the point-based system. One of the most important things we need to do if and when we decide to tackle psionics is to figure out how we handle that fact. At this point, I would say that we'd just be up front about the fact that we're NOT going with a point based system and lay all our cards on the table, as it were. That way, for folks who want only a spell-point system, they'll know from the start that they're not getting that.

I am a pretty big fan of the FLAVOR of psionics, but not a fan of the point based system by which they've always functioned, in other words.

If you're a fan of psionics as a flavor of power, then I feel absolutely confident that Paizo can deliver to you a psionics solution you'll enjoy. If you're a fan of the point system, I'm confident you'll be disappointed.

Whether or not the disappointed fans outnumber the ones who won't mind or would welcome a move to the Vancian system (likely spontaneous casting like a sorcerer or oracle or bard) for psionics is one of the more complex elements of the problem we need to wrap our heads around. Because if the disappointed customers outnumber the ones who want it... that might convince us to leave psionics alone entirely and leave the development of them as a point-based system to a third party publisher. Or perhaps to put them off EVEN FURTHER and include them not in a psionics book but as part of some nebulous "Unearthed...

Thank you for weighing in on this topic, James. I for one had been wondering what Paizo's official stance on the Variable Depletionist System was.

I'm happy you guys are going to take the Psionics in that direction if you decide to do it at all. Have you guys given any thought into how to handle the fluff of adding these (before unheard of) Psionicists into the Golarian setting? That would be the toughest part imo.

Liberty's Edge

At the risk of alienating anybody...

Now that a point-based system is off the table, spell-like abilities (like the warlock) would probably be the easiest way to reproduce psionics.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Dork Lord wrote:
I'm happy you guys are going to take the Psionics in that direction if you decide to do it at all. Have you guys given any thought into how to handle the fluff of adding these (before unheard of) Psionicists into the Golarian setting? That would be the toughest part imo.

We have, actually.

We've got two strong contenders for psionic-themed regions already: the region of Vudra and, perhaps, the planet Castrovel. Either one of those could make a pretty cool place to have psionics be dominant. We would NOT use the Inner Sea region as the implied setting for psionics, but by using something like Vudra or Castrovel, we can easilly have psionic characters traveling to the Inner Sea.

It's the same way we're handling ninjas and samurais, basically; they're not from the Inner Sea region; they're tied to Tian Xia.

So if and when we do a Psionics rulebook, that might be a good time to do some sort of campaign setting material on Vudra or Castrovel. Or some other place if we decide to go with some other place, of course... Vudra and Castrovel are currently the two strongest frontrunners for "psionic land" though.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Castrovel, please :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Krillnar wrote:

At the risk of alienating anybody...

Now that a point-based system is off the table, spell-like abilities (like the warlock) would probably be the easiest way to reproduce psionics.

Since all of the psionic powers are already written up in the same format as spells, and since they're all written for and balanced against spells of equal levels, transitioning the powers over to the Vancian system is actually incredibly easy. It basically becomes a task of balancing these powers against Pathinfder's spell philosophies at that point, which is the same step we took for all of the spells in the first place when we converted them to Pathfinder RPG from 3.5.


Awww...very disappointed that there's no official power point support there. I've never been a fan of spell slots - they seem so...artificial.

Ah well... *crosses fingers for Dreamscarred's book*


seekerofshadowlight wrote:
My issues is the two do not mix well. In a game I feel all classes should use the same casting system not different casting systems.Which has always been my issue with the point system, it does not fit the system.
James Jacobs wrote:
The greatest disadvantage the power point system has is that it's not the system that everyone learns when they start playing Pathfinder. We already have a system for handling spells (and make no mistake, if/when we do psionics, they'll be handled as spells, not powers), and rewriting that system into a "same but different" system that basically forces players of psionic characters and GMs to re-learn an entire new system that, in the end, is supposed to accomplish the same effect as the system they already know, is in my opinion a waste of energy and resources.

Actually what I was trying to have the point of this thread be which is the preferred mechanics. The reason I didn't comment in the thread about psionics is because I didn't want to bring psionics or classes into this. In short, if there is to be only one way magic works rules-wise, which is the system you find more appealing and why, and which systems do you dislike and why. Ideally to me, no classes would use the vancian system but would instead use the mana system. That goes for not only psionic classes if they are ever introduced, but for bards, clerics, druids, mages (not much need in distinguishing sorcerers and wizards if no one needs to prepare spells in advance), rangers and paladins.


James Jacobs wrote:
Some stuff

Personally I think this is the best news I've heard on the psionics front in, well, ever. I agree that adding a power point system is essentially an entirely new system and I've had one too many misadventures with mixing systems in the past to ever think it's a good idea. I was planning on skipping any and all psionic material produced, but this is the first time I'm rethinking that.

What I am hoping for now is a little less transparency between magic and psionics. A magic dispelling/detecting psionic power seems to me to define psionics as nothing more than variant magic. I know there were optional rules for this in the past, but an optional rule will never show up in an adventure.

My 2 cents: If you want a power-point system then play one (my personal recommendation for the best magic system that uses power-points: Rolemaster). You don't have to always play the same system.

Keep up the good work Paizo people.

EDIT: I almost forgot the original purpose of this thread. To answer the OPs question Pathfinder is a Vancian system and should stay as such for all magics. Optional rules are fine, but if you ever use published adventures you will never see the optional rules in those. Paizo has stated before that it's Adventure Path line is its flagship product and optional rules would not be compatible. Other magic systems are for other game systems.


stringburka wrote:

I think the system is fine as-is. Power point systems seems to favor novaing and the 15-minute workday, though it has it's merits too.

And there's one big piece of fantasy literature that uses the vancian system: the work by Vance. :)

But yes, much of the fantasy literature presents mages somewhat like sorcerers, or something in between sorcerers and wizards.

I would argue that the works of one author (in a sci-fi/fantasy setting), when compared to the entire corpus of fantasy literature is not "one big piece". Especially as I have read a decent amount of fantasy books except Vance's works, I've always encountered the sorcerer/psion style wizards and not ones that need to memorise spells.

As to the 15-minute workday, I don't see how a mana system favours that. True, you have the option of casting fewer higher level spells then a bunch of 1st level spells, but at least so long as the spellcaster has mana they are useful. In the vancian system unless the spellcaster knows exactly what is going to happen that day when choosing spells there is a high likelihood of him sitting in a corner twiddling his thumbs because he only has open doors or other spells that are useless in that situation left.


James Jacobs wrote:


[The greatest disadvantage the power point system has is that it's not the system that everyone learns when they start playing Pathfinder.]

So?

[We already have a system for handling spells (and make no mistake, if/when we do psionics, they'll be handled as spells, not powers), and rewriting that system into a "same but different" system that basically forces players of psionic characters and GMs to re-learn an entire new system that, in the end, is supposed to accomplish the same effect as the system they already know, is in my opinion a waste of energy and resources.

That said, I know that a lot of fans of psionics DO like the point-based system. One of the most important things we need to do if and when we decide to tackle psionics is to figure out how we handle that fact. At this point, I would say that we'd just be up front about the fact that we're NOT going with a point based system and lay all our cards on the table, as it were. That way, for folks who want only a spell-point system, they'll know from the start that they're not getting that.

I am a pretty big fan of the FLAVOR of psionics, but not a fan of the point based system by which they've always functioned, in other words.]

I think the flavor of Psionics is best represented by power points. But, then, I also feel that Divine magic should be more ... spontaneous ... so that may show you where I'm coming from on this.

[If you're a fan of psionics as a flavor of power, then I feel absolutely confident that Paizo can deliver to you a psionics solution you'll enjoy. If you're a fan of the point system, I'm confident you'll be disappointed.

Whether or not the disappointed fans outnumber the ones who won't mind or would welcome a move to the Vancian system (likely spontaneous casting like a sorcerer or oracle or bard) for psionics is one of the more complex elements of the problem we need to wrap our heads around. Because if the disappointed customers outnumber the ones who want it... that might convince us to leave psionics alone entirely and leave the development of them as a point-based system to a third party publisher. Or perhaps to put them off EVEN FURTHER and include them not in a psionics book but as part of some nebulous "Unearthed... ]

I love the flavor AND the point system, so I guess I'll be one of those disappointed fans then. Sorry.

Silver Crusade

James Jacobs wrote:
Because if the disappointed customers outnumber the ones who want it... that might convince us to leave psionics alone entirely and leave the development of them as a point-based system to a third party publisher.

My big worry here is that if you leave Psionics up to a third party publisher alone, would this rob us of any chance of getting Vudra and Castrovel sourcebooks and APs?


I do hope psionics published by Paizo will still provide for wild talents though. That is one of the aspects of psionics I really enjoyed. I suppose it would be easy to do Dragon Mark style feats though.

I'm behind Paizo for switching it to a Vancian system.


One option would be to create psionic equivalents/spins to the classes already available in PFRPG, much like as in the APG.

Sovereign Court

Wow, that certainly sounds like something that would make me much more interested in a psionics system if it was more Vancian. Definitely better then learning an odd new system.


Why would points be so hard to understand for someone coming out of base Pathfinder? I can count at least 3 if not 4 class that have some kind of point poll. Barbarian rage points, Bard performance rounds (which may as well be points), Monk Ki points. Add in the point pool for channel energy on the Cleric (et all) and that's 4 core base classes that use a "point" mechanic.

Granted the step from Barbarian rage powers to 3.5 Psionc power point expense is a little far, but something that would be totally alien... unlike how it was for 3e itself with almost no point based sub-systems in core.

Being a 3.5 XPH convert (aren't convert to any system just eh worst :p ) I would not be pleased with a Spell Slot (not calling it Vancian anymore) style psionic system. I seriously doubt Paizo's ability to sell that concept as different when it goes head to head with Wizards and Witches. I was not hyper thrilled with first pass on psionics in the campaign setting book. I know it has been suggested but a smaller point pool with a faster refresh, linked to something more akin to spell-like abilities, would be far more palatable.... Just not what I and many current 3.5 XPH users would prefer.

The formula for power point costs is extremely simple. ("Spell Level" * 2 - 1) The rules for augmentation are where things trip up. As there is no universal application of augmentation options across powers. Seriously, what are augmentations for the most part? Basically power specific meta-magic feats. Only you pay for the "Slot Cost" directly and don't necessarily have it available to all spells that it could likely apply to.


James Jacobs wrote:


That said, I know that a lot of fans of psionics DO like the point-based system. One of the most important things we need to do if and when we decide to tackle psionics is to figure out how we handle that fact. At this point, I would say that we'd just be up front about the fact that we're NOT going with a point based system and lay all our cards on the table, as it were. That way, for folks who want only a spell-point system, they'll know from the start that they're not getting that.

I am fine with this, Psionics does not scream points and many games have psionic powers without a point based system. I want a system that works better with core and one that gets supported and a Vudra AP. I do so hope when ya guys tackle this you do a playtest and have confidence your keep the rich flavor of psionics no mater what you do system wise

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
The greatest disadvantage the power point system has is that it's not the system that everyone learns when they start playing Pathfinder. We already have a system for handling spells (and make no mistake, if/when we do psionics, they'll be handled as spells, not powers)

Why not have both (Vancian and spell points)?

I recently played a psion in a Dark Sun Encounters game. I noted a new subsystem, called "augments", that allowed my PC to use his encounter powers more than once in the same encounter. Adapting it and Book of Experimental Might's "boosted" feat system, I could envision a system where a psionic character "cast", for example, ego whip at a foe but augmented certain effects using his/her power points (3+CHA per day). One power point, for example, would force the target to make a second WILL saving roll and take the result of the second roll, while two power points would lower the initial saving throw by -2.


Dorje Sylas wrote:
Why would points be so hard to understand for someone coming out of base Pathfinder? I can count at least 3 if not 4 class that have some kind of point poll. Barbarian rage points, Bard performance rounds (which may as well be points), Monk Ki points. Add in the point pool for channel energy on the Cleric (et all) and that's 4 core base classes that use a "point" mechanic.

The problem is not the difficulty, it's that your using two seperate casting systems in one game to accomplish the same thing. Most people don't want to deal with that. The point systems you are taliking about are simple enough to describe in the class description and are very similar mechanically. Having a Spell Point and Vancian system in one game is like taking Barbarian Rage as it was in 3.0, Channel Energy running on Hit Point sacrificing, and Monk Ki working off of Hero Points rather then using a similar system.

A spell point system wouldn't be bad to develope as an alternate but it should be applied to all casters, not just some. This way a DM can choose the system they want rather then look for loop holes in two different systems that their players might try to exploit.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

The greatest disadvantage the power point system has is that it's not the system that everyone learns when they start playing Pathfinder. We already have a system for handling spells (and make no mistake, if/when we do psionics, they'll be handled as spells, not powers), and rewriting that system into a "same but different" system that basically forces players of psionic characters and GMs to re-learn an entire new system that, in the end, is supposed to accomplish the same effect as the system they already know, is in my opinion a waste of energy and resources.

That said, I know that a lot of fans of psionics DO like the point-based system. One of the most important things we need to do if and when we decide to tackle psionics is to figure out how we handle that fact. At this point, I would say that we'd just be up front about the fact that we're NOT going with a point based system and lay all our cards on the table, as it were. That way, for folks who want only a spell-point system, they'll know from the start that they're not getting that.

I am a pretty big fan of the FLAVOR of psionics, but not a fan of the point based system by which they've always functioned, in other words.

If you're a fan of psionics as a flavor of power, then I feel absolutely confident that Paizo can deliver to you a psionics solution you'll enjoy. If you're a fan of the point system, I'm confident you'll be disappointed.

Whether or not the disappointed fans outnumber the ones who won't mind or would welcome a move to the Vancian system (likely spontaneous casting like a sorcerer or oracle or bard) for psionics is one of the more complex elements of the problem we need to wrap our heads around. Because if the disappointed customers outnumber the ones who want it... that might convince us to leave psionics alone entirely and leave the development of them as a point-based system to a third party publisher. Or perhaps to put them off EVEN FURTHER and include them not in a psionics book but as part of some nebulous "Unearthed...

James First I want to thank you for laying your cards on the table.

Pathfinder has done a very good job at walking a delicate balance. The balance of keeping enough of what has gone before, or “backwards compatibility” with the introduction of some excellent new ideas. For example, introducing three experience schedules I thought was an excellent idea. I also think much of the new materiel in the APG (Cavalier, Inquisitor Witch to name a few) to be an excellent addition to the game.

That being said, I suppose we all have our sacred cows. In terms of Psionics, mine happen to be the power points, the augmentation mechanic, and I also liked the psionic focus mechanic as well.

I like having variety, namely a vancian spell casting system, the spell like abilities of a warlock, and the power point system of psionics.

If you do come out with psionic materiel, and if it will be a vancian system, I will number amongst those disappointed fans. Thank you for laying that out before hand. I doubt i will be interested in the mechanics. It seems that the psionic rules get re written every time a "new " eddition comes along. I left Wotc because i didn't like their new game, 4.0 D&D and its changes. I am very happy with what paizo has done with Pathfinder keeping what has gone before and adding some new materiel.

That being said, I am a fan of the flavor of psionics. And I am sure your talented writers will produce something excellent materiel.

Perhaps there is a compromise we can all live with. I understand Dream scarred press is doing an update of the psionic rules. I can say I am looking forward to what they are producing.

I am sure Paizo will come up with excellently written flavor or “Fluff”. May I suggest a compromise? Don’t bother calling the “Psionic” materiel “psionic”. Call it Vudrani, call it Castrovali, Just don't call it psioinics. Say it is a magical tradition they have developed over thousands of years, and is “unique” to their civilization. This way you can introduce some new materials, and avoid upsetting us vocal psionic fans.

Anyways its just a thought. thank you.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dorje Sylas wrote:
Why would points be so hard to understand for someone coming out of base Pathfinder?
Skaorn wrote:
The problem is not the difficulty, it's that your using two seperate casting systems in one game to accomplish the same thing.

It's very similar to creating rules where Fighters, Barbarians, and Paladins use the d20 BAB mechanic for attacks, then saying that Ranger has to use the old THAC0 system.

They are two separate systems that accomplish basically the same thing but in very different ways with very different rules. There are undoubtedly people that prefer THAC0 to BAB, but mixing them would be a bad design decision. Same thing with spell slot magic and power point point psionics. Pick one, don't do both.

-Skeld

Paizo Employee Creative Director

joela wrote:
Why not have both (Vancian and spell points)?

Mostly because I'm not interested in covering both. I'd rather pick one and use 100% of the book's pages supporting that method. I don't want to do something that more or less guarantees that a portion of the book will be useless to every single customer, which is what happens if we go wishy-washy and provide multiple options. That's the same reason I'm not interested in dual-stat books that present stats for multiple systems in one product.

Also, we'd need to pick one of those options as the one we support in our adventures and sourcebooks and for the Pathfinder Society. We'd want to use the SAME rules for all of those, which would mean that some of the rules we worked hard to get right would be forevermore ignored by us. Not very cool.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

ElyasRavenwood wrote:
I am sure Paizo will come up with excellently written flavor or “Fluff”. May I suggest a compromise? Don’t bother calling the “Psionic” materiel “psionic”. Call it Vudrani, call it Castrovali, Just don't call it psioinics. Say it is a magical tradition they have developed over thousands of years, and is “unique” to their civilization. This way you can introduce some new materials, and avoid upsetting us vocal psionic fans.

This is actually a route we are VERY strongly considering. For sure, we won't be updating the psion or the soulknife classes. First, if we change the way psionics work, those classes would have to change so much that they'd be too different. Second (and more important to me) I want our "psionic" classes to be identifiable by their names by ANYONE. You ask a fan of fantasy genre what a "soulknife" or a "wilder" is and they won't know unless they just happen to be 3.5 psionics fans. It's MUCH better to do new psionic classes that are themed on concepts that already exist in mythology or popular culture. Classes with names like "Pyrokineticist" or "Mesmerist" or "Fakir" or "Telepath" or "Telekinetic" or "Spiritualist" are MUCH stronger base class concepts to support psionic rules.

Or whatever we call them. Something like "mind magic" or whatever. Something that gets across the point that it's the same TYPE of thing as psionics, but by not calling them psionics we:

a) Avoid the stigma that its a science fiction element invading a fantasy game.

b) Don't "overwrite" the psionic concepts in 3.5's psionic rules, so that someone who wants to use those rules converted to Pathfinder RPG (perhaps using some new 3rd party supplement from the future, who knows?) they don't feel like they're some sort of rules outlaw.

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
joela wrote:
Why not have both (Vancian and spell points)?

Mostly because I'm not interested in covering both. I'd rather pick one and use 100% of the book's pages supporting that method. I don't want to do something that more or less guarantees that a portion of the book will be useless to every single customer, which is what happens if we go wishy-washy and provide multiple options. That's the same reason I'm not interested in dual-stat books that present stats for multiple systems in one product.

Oops. My apologizes. I didn't mean asking for two separate systems, one Vancian-based, one using power points. The query was meant as an intro into my suggested system (which is further in my post), which I later expanded here:

[Psionic] Willworkers: Using Vancian Magic and Power Points

Paizo Employee Creative Director

And again... Paizo won't be doing much at all with Psionics in 2010, 2011, or likely even 2012. We're still YEARS away from devoting actual design time to the topic. It's not something we're champing at the bit to get started on, primarily because of all the hurdles and stumbling blocks I've outlined on this thread.

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:

I am a pretty big fan of the FLAVOR of psionics, but not a fan of the point based system by which they've always functioned, in other words.

If you're a fan of psionics as a flavor of power, then I feel absolutely confident that Paizo can deliver to you a psionics solution you'll enjoy. If you're a fan of the point system, I'm confident you'll be disappointed.

Thank you James. No wait, that didn't come right. THANK YOU JAMES.

Flavor was my biggest gripe with the psionic products I've seen so far (I have nebulous memories of the AD&D 2e booklet), with most of the abilities duplicating spells but with a different name and game mechanic. Meh.

That said, may I suggest a third option? The "power conjuration" system seen in Thieves' World Players Manual is really great and fits quite well to a psionic (and ki-based, or even magic/mana themed) system. And it's OGC too, so with some Paizo touches it could be a viable solution, IMHO.


James Jacobs wrote:

And again... Paizo won't be doing much at all with Psionics in 2010, 2011, or likely even 2012. We're still YEARS away from devoting actual design time to the topic. It's not something we're champing at the bit to get started on, primarily because of all the hurdles and stumbling blocks I've outlined on this thread.

I would like to draw everyone's attention to the fact that James Jacobs scheduled psionics work to begin after the scheduled end of the world. Thanks a lot, James Hussein Jacobs. (It's an Obama joke)


Ironicdisaster wrote:

I would like to draw everyone's attention to the fact that James Jacobs scheduled psionics work to begin after the scheduled end of the world.

Less drama from disappointed point system fans that way.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

It's a myth that there is one magic system used in Pathfinder. There are two.

Spell preparation and spontaneous casting are two different systems that are used to accomplish the exact same results. Sure, they both fall under the Vancian umbrella with spell levels and tables of spells per day. But that's all they have in common, and there's much more to a magic system than 'how powerful' and 'how often.'

Each has radically different rules for using the same metamagic feats. Each has a different format for presenting class spells in stat blocks. Prepared spells and spell slots have to be addressed individually by every game effect that interacts with both. There are spells and magic items that only interact with one of the two separate magic systems, having no meaningful effect whatsoever in the hands of a caster using the other system.

Actually, there are now three casting systems used in Pathfinder, since the alchemist uses extracts instead of spells. Even though extracts and spells accomplish the same thing, and both use a prepared Vancian system, an extract is not a spell and a spell is not an extract. Knowing everything about prepared Vancian spellcasting is insufficient to understand the rules for prepared Vancian alchemy, and vice versa.

Also, that monk's ki pool ability that supposedly isn't accomplishing the same thing as the magic system? Look at the monk's 12th-level abundant step ability. Right there in the Core Rulebook, you can see a point-based mechanic being used to exactly duplicate a spell. Anyone who understands how to play a 12th-level monk already understands how to play a points-based spellcaster.

EDIT:

James Jacobs wrote:
Or whatever we call them. Something like "mind magic" or whatever.

Strike that. Ignore everything I just wrote. Paizo can do whatever the heck it wants with "mind magic." I could care less if "mind magic" is Vancian.


I can see a hybrid happening. Vancian style casters that use a spell point system. They 'normally' cast spells at the minimum level that the spells are cast, Fireball does 5d6 even if the caster is 10th level. But you give some sort of 'pushing' mana to work with, that allows them to cast spells at a higher effective level.

That actually sounds like a very good way to handle a class similar to the sorcerer. I'll have to look in on it for play balance, don't want a nerf caster class.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
We've got two strong contenders for psionic-themed regions already: the region of Vudra and, perhaps, the planet Castrovel.

Where does this "natural connection" between Vudra as a pseudo-Indian setting and psionics originate? I don't really see that at all, am I missing something?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Zaister wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
We've got two strong contenders for psionic-themed regions already: the region of Vudra and, perhaps, the planet Castrovel.
Where does this "natural connection" between Vudra as a pseudo-Indian setting and psionics originate? I don't really see that at all, am I missing something?

Yes, that this is a fantasy world, and if Erik says that psionic hyperintelligent velociraptors populate Vudra, well, they do ? :)


Zaister wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
We've got two strong contenders for psionic-themed regions already: the region of Vudra and, perhaps, the planet Castrovel.
Where does this "natural connection" between Vudra as a pseudo-Indian setting and psionics originate? I don't really see that at all, am I missing something?

Its covered on page 234 and 235 in the campaign setting. As Vudra is very mind over matter they have developed magics that reflect that aspect.

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:

At this point, I would say that we'd just be up front about the fact that we're NOT going with a point based system and lay all our cards on the table, as it were. That way, for folks who want only a spell-point system, they'll know from the start that they're not getting that.

I am a pretty big fan of the FLAVOR of psionics, but not a fan of the point based system by which they've always functioned, in other words.

*pumps fist* WOOHOO! Put me firmly in the category of "people who feel just like this." I'm not a huge fan of the Vancian spell system to begin with, but I'm even less of a fan of introducing a completely different system that functions alongside the existing one. I want to see non-Vancian spellcasting in Ultimate Magic, but not in a product that's intended to be used as part of the core game, like psionics would be. If you make it like that, you have a customer in me, at least. ^_^

Jeremy Puckett


A Power-point system or free-form magic would be like fresh air, but I understand that it requires a lot of work.

My interest in a "Vancian"-like system for psionics is zero, I can already do that with a Sorcerer. Unless Paizo surprises me with some cool new game mechanic por Vancian psionics, I mean.

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:

The greatest disadvantage the power point system has is that it's not the system that everyone learns when they start playing Pathfinder. We already have a system for handling spells (and make no mistake, if/when we do psionics, they'll be handled as spells, not powers), and rewriting that system into a "same but different" system that basically forces players of psionic characters and GMs to re-learn an entire new system that, in the end, is supposed to accomplish the same effect as the system they already know, is in my opinion a waste of energy and resources.

That said, I know that a lot of fans of psionics DO like the point-based system. One of the most important things we need to do if and when we decide to tackle psionics is to figure out how we handle that fact. At this point, I would say that we'd just be up front about the fact that we're NOT going with a point based system and lay all our cards on the table, as it were. That way, for folks who want only a spell-point system, they'll know from the start that they're not getting that.

I am a pretty big fan of the FLAVOR of psionics, but not a fan of the point based system by which they've always functioned, in other words.

If you're a fan of psionics as a flavor of power, then I feel absolutely confident that Paizo can deliver to you a psionics solution you'll enjoy. If you're a fan of the point system, I'm confident you'll be disappointed.

Whether or not the disappointed fans outnumber the ones who won't mind or would welcome a move to the Vancian system (likely spontaneous casting like a sorcerer or oracle or bard) for psionics is one of the more complex elements of the problem we need to wrap our heads around. Because if the disappointed customers outnumber the ones who want it... that might convince us to leave psionics alone entirely and leave the development of them as a point-based system to a third party publisher. Or perhaps to put them off EVEN FURTHER and include them not in a psionics book but as part of some nebulous "Unearthed...

In my opinion, you should "refluff" psionics as "mind magic", something along the lines of mind magic presented in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series. My only wish is for you to keep Soulknife as a class. On the other hand, I really think that you should go ahead with "mind magic", or psionics or whatever, because you can not develop places like Castrovel, Akiton or Vudra without, and there is a lot of interest for those places among Paizo fans.

Edit: I see that James already covered some of the thing I mentioned in his previous posts. Sorry for not reading. I would just like to once again mention that there is a lot of interest for Castrovel and Vudra, and for that you need "mind magic".


*chucks monkey wrench into discussion* What about the recharge system? *Runs away and dives into bushes*


Icarus Pherae wrote:
*chucks monkey wrench into discussion* What about the recharge system? *Runs away and dives into bushes*

Shakes tentacle at Icarus...

CURSE YOU!

:P


.... Well I guess you could rebuild Psionics as a slot system. Just Spell Slot advocates won't like the results....

Again the base cost of powers is ridiculously simple (Spell Level x 2 -1). A Spell Slot (Vancian is fire and forget Wizard/Cleric, not expender Sorcerers) Psionic caster would have a free floating pool of spell levels/slots with which to pay for powers from a highly limited selection of ones know. Augmentations work by spending more spell levels/slots then you need to on a spell.

Same basic system, extremely less detailed.

IMO, good that Paizo is staying away from Psionics. Let Dreamscarred do what they specialize in and what OGL lets them do. Hopefully by the time Paizo is even thinking about making a decision on Psionics the Dreamscarred material will have plugged that hole and it will have become an accepted default choice.

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