Why did we never see official psionics in 1e?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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My experience playing a cryptic (Dreamscarred) and using psychic warriors and a psion as a DM (D&D 3.5) is that they weren't overpowered. I'd lean towards saying the cryptic was underpowered and while the psion could've been toned down a little it wasn't broken. OTOH a stalker (Dreamscarred) made an excellent prestige class to fix a bad build and would have been overpowered if played from the start IMO.


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I think the reason why people think Psionics are overpowered when compared to Magic is because Psionics can do a LOT of stuff that Magic cannot do, and that's simply because of the Augmentation and Power Points features. It's highly customizable on the fly because you don't prepare spells or anything, you just get Power Points and they can be spent on any Power you know and for as many times as you want to, and you can Augment a significant majority of powers by investing additional Power Points when you manifest the power, which can also be done on an individual, per-manifest basis. It's only limitation in this respect is how many power points per day you get, and that's about it. Augmenting powers gives you all kinds of boons: extra damage, raises the DC, causes a cool effect, increases the duration, increases the area of effect or range, changes the action type from Standard to Move or Immediate Action, w/e. So it's EXTREMELY versatile, and this versatility provides the illusion that Psionics are overpowered. Magic spells simply cannot compete with the "on-the-fly" versatility that Psionic powers provide as a core mechanic.

However, Psionics has MUCH LESS flexibility when it comes to Metapsionic Feats when compared to Magic users and their use of Metamagic Feats, and the use of those Metapsionic Feats have much higher feat taxes as well as Action Economy costs. For example, any time you use a Metapsionic feat, it consumes your Psionic Focus (and you only get one Psionic Focus to start the game), and regaining your Psionic Focus takes a Full Round Action. You NEED the Feat Psionic Meditation to reduce that Full Round Action down to a Move Action, because there are many class abilities that cannot even be performed unless your Psi Focus is active. So if you consume your Psi Focus, it's priority #1 to re-Psi Focus. There are two ways to get a 2nd Psionic Focus, but it's impossible to get a 3rd focus, so you need to pick up the feats Psicrystal Affinity + Psicrystal Containment, or you can pick up the feats Body Fuel + Deep Focus. Either set of feats will gain you a 2nd Psi Focus. So we're already 3 feats in, and we don't even have a Metapsionic Feat yet. Now we can pick Empower Power and Maximize Power (or whatever). So we're talking 5 feats just to be able to USE the two Metapsionic Feats, AND, you still need to replenish your two Psi Foci with two Move Actions whenever you consume them. So there's significant Action Economy cost associated with any time you want to use a Metapsionic Feat, and there's no way around it with fancy feats like Preferred Spell. There's no such thing as Metapsionic Rods either. So when inexperienced players/DM's start seeing all these Augmentations flying around and cry "Nerf!", know that any Magic user has far more flexibility and less feat tax when it comes to Metamagic vs. Metapsionic feats. Also, many psionic classes have their core class mechanics consume their Psi Focus to do the most basic things that you absolutely need, but thankfully there are feats that can make the Psi Focus cost go away. But still, it costs more feats.

There are a lot of really cool Psionic Powers as well, but for all their coolness, they are lacking when compared to basic staples of magic. For example, Psionics doesn't have Invisibility. The closest you're going to get is Cloud Mind, which affects one target, but it can be Augmented to affect one additional target for every 2 PP, and each creature gets a Will Save. So if any of the enemies pass the Will Save, then you're toast anyway, they can alert their friends and they all gain a new saving throws -- Invisibility is vastly superior; no save and affects every target. Psychic Warriors and Cryptics can do a Vanishing Strike, but that's only 1 round/ML. Also, none of the Psionic Classes have access to Fly, except for Psions with Nomad Discipline, and that's it, they're the only ones who can Fly, otherwise if you want to fly, it takes the Expanded Knowledge feat. Fly and Invis are bread and butter to magic classes, but for Psionics, these are much to be yearned for, because with how feat starved every Psionic class is, Fly doesn't even show up on the radar compared to the other stuff you need Expanded Knowledge for, like Hustle, so you can gain a 2nd Move Action in a round for 5pp to gain that 2nd Psi Focus back faster, or Schism, so you can manifest a 2nd power per round with a -6ML.

And please don't think that I'm complaining here because I'm not, I love Psionics, I'm just explaining how Psionics are simply different from Magic. Psionics get a ton of stuff that Magic doesn't, and Magic gets a ton of stuff that Psionics doesn't, and my point is that inexperienced players/DM's don't realize that Psionics isn't overpowered, it's just different, that's all.


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Ryze Kuja wrote:
It's only limitation in this respect is how many power points per day you get, and that's about it.

You also cannot exceed your Manifester Level (ML) when augmenting a power either. So if you're level 13, but your ML is 15 with a specific power because of feats/items, you cannot use Metapsionic Feats or Augment the power past 15 power points. But yeah, that's about the only other limitation.


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FaerieGodfather wrote:
Especially people uninformed or inexperienced enough to allow the Vitalist into their games.

Care to explain this? Because only an uninformed or inexperienced person would *NOT* allow the Vitalist into their game without first disallowing virtually all other partial and full casters. The only thing that Vitalists naturally excel at is healing, one of the weakest actions in the game (though Vitalist does admittedly make healing far more valuable action then normal). If healing of all things causes problems in someone's game, I think there's a larger problem that needs solved.

Shadow Lodge

Having play a Vitalist recently I can attest to the fact they aren't overpowered. If anything they're on the weak side when working as the sole healer in the group. Throw a cleric into the mix though and they really bring healing in combat up to something that isn't "lol no, don't do it"

Kind of like pairing Skalds with Martial Groups.


Anzyr wrote:
Care to explain this?

Their ability to turn small amounts of group healing into ridiculous amounts of individual healing. If you excel enough at the weakest strategy in the game, it stops being the weakest strategy.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

FaerieGodfather wrote:
Anzyr wrote:
Care to explain this?
Their ability to turn small amounts of group healing into ridiculous amounts of individual healing. If you excel enough at the weakest strategy in the game, it stops being the weakest strategy.

So healing should always be the worst strategy, even if you specialise at it (and assuming you can find someone who wants to be nothing but the healbot in the first place?)

And even having said that, I'm not seeing how this is a problem in core Pathfinder, at least on a quick glance. Now, I might be missing something, and I'mn not taking loads of feats or anything into account, so correct me if i'm wrong, but I can't see that the vitalist has any particular extra healing powers above normal psions at first blush, which would mean that collective to individual healing would have to come from cure wounds spells, which are laughably weak. A core CLW mass at introductory level is only D8+9, which translates (in a standard PF four-person party) to about 54 hit points. Mass Critical wounds is 4D8+15 at the level it becomes available, and that's only, what, 132 hit points; less than Heal on a single target two spell levels lower (Heal being 150 at tht point), which also does other stuff as well.

Now? In MY games, I'll grant you, it would get silly, given that a) my party size is 6-8 (maybe +1 if one of those has an animal companion for these purposes) and b) I DRASTICALLY increased the power of cures[1], such that CLW mass is 25+D8/2 levels, so at 9th is 25+4D8 (so about 43 per character, almost as much as that four-party combined core spells), and you'd get 258-344 hit points back for a collective spell (more if the caster happens to have something like Augment Healing from 3.5, which is the case in some parties. That? Yeah, I would concur is way too strong for its level (and why I would be extremely cautious about it and actually, I better just check the Tactician abilities now I think about it...) But unless you're using rules like mine, I really don't think it seemed unreasonable healing. (In fact I would call it "actually functional" healing.)

_______________________________________________________________

[1]In my opinion, a healing spell should be healing AT LEAST slightly more than a damage spell of the say level inflicts. That max-CL CLW can't heal more than just over half the max damage of frickin' Magic Missile is a sacred cow of AD&D that should have been gutted LOOOONG ago.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

We did see official psionics in 1E. They were introduced in a book called Occult Adventures.


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CBDunkerson wrote:
We did see official psionics in 1E. They were introduced in a book called Occult Adventures.

No.


Ryze Kuja wrote:
CBDunkerson wrote:
We did see official psionics in 1E. They were introduced in a book called Occult Adventures.
No.

To clarify, we saw psychic magic, which used the same Vancian cast kind of magic that already existed in the game, but these classes hada different spell list with different a different focus on the kinds of spells in them.

It was psinoics as most think of, which the power point based system.

Personally, I don't like the power point based systems and much preferred the psychic magic implementation but I understand there are many who are dissatisfied with that.

In any event, when it comes to PF2 I also highly doubt power point based systems would be implemented, and at best you might end up with a class that has lots of focus spell and a higher focus point cap than the normal 3.


It's not even the point-based psionics system, but the fact that Psychic magic and the Psychic classes have very little in common thematically with the Psionics and Psionic classes in AD&D and d20.

They're just not the same thing at all.

Given my druthers, I'd like to see something, say, halfway between the two... with both the "science fantasy" feel of Ultimate Psionics and the horror vibe of Occult Adventures.


So looking at something like Inevitable Strike compared to Truestrike I can definitely understand an argument on how good Psionics are.

Truestrike. +20 to your next attack as a standard action.

Inevitable Strike. +20 to your next attack as a standard action. Or +5 as a swift action. And either get +2 per powerpoint spent up to a maximum of +25.

It's just in every way better.

That being said... I can learn literally every wizard/sorcerer spell in the game as a wizard and have scrolls of most of them that I prepared myself. That kind of versatility is hard to beat.

They both have their place in a well-rounded party with their own strengths and weaknesses that they each bring to the table. And if they both fill a distinct/fun-play role that's worth filling, that's really what tabletops are all about isn't it?


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The Innkeeper wrote:

So looking at something like Inevitable Strike compared to Truestrike I can definitely understand an argument on how good Psionics are.

Truestrike. +20 to your next attack as a standard action.

Inevitable Strike. +20 to your next attack as a standard action. Or +5 as a swift action. And either get +2 per powerpoint spent up to a maximum of +25.

It should be better. If you augment it up to +25, it's the equivalent of a 6th level spell.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Plus Truestrike is, itself, kind of a pants spell to start with. I, though I suppose I can only speak for my own experience, have never encountered a situation in actual gameplay where using it would have been better than making two attacks or casting two spells. Are there situations where it could concievably be useful? Yes, but that's equally true of Erase and Magic Aura, but no-one has ever used those, either. So I would not say Treustrike is a good example of a spell to look at as a balance point.

Inevitable strike's ability to be used as a Swift action does mean, at least, it would work well a PsyWar, where it fits in with the action economy of a self-buffer without burning another round to activate.

...

Maybe I ought to re-write Truestrike to have a secondary mode as well, then it might be worth using...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Pathfinder has an official psionics system.

Yes, some people dislike that it is more similar to other magical systems in the game than to the 'point based' systems used in previous editions...but it does exist.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
CBDunkerson wrote:

Pathfinder has an official psionics system.

Yes, some people dislike that it is more similar to other magical systems in the game than to the 'point based' systems used in previous editions...but it does exist.

Still no.

But we can (evidently) repeatedly point out that both the mechanics and flavor are completely different and it'll fall on deaf ears.

Did Paizo dip into the psionics material for inspiration? Yes, clearly. That undercasting exists and that mind thrust exists show that.

Did they implement that inspiration as psionics? No, clearly. That the classes angle towards spirituality and supernatural sources instead of mental force-of-will sources shows that.

Other than "is magic with a source other than arcane and divine", it's completely different.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Psychic Magic is basically the equivilent Rolemaster's Mentalism realm or magic (which is distinct from (other version of) Rolemaster's psionics rules). (As opposed to RM's Essense (D&D arcane) and Chanelling (D&D Divine).)


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Truestike is far from a useless spell but yes, the action economy makes it bad in most scenarios. A scenario that makes it good though is for-instance, a build based on a single big hit such as a mounted lancer or especially a sniper casting a silenced truestrike immediately before initiating an ambush.

Or anyone casting the regular version when the DM says something like "You hear them rushing toward the door. You have one round to prepare. What do you do?"

Their first hit is going to hit nearly unerringly and if they are a big hit focused build, that's huge.

Like most arcane spells, it's fine because while it is situational, you don't have to prepare it. Just keep it around as a wand or scroll for when you need it.

The psionic version is just straight better though. You can use it just like truestrike when needed, or use it for a +5 bonus as a swift. THIS DOES NOT ASSUME ANY ADDITIONAL POWERPOINT COST. This assumes 1 powerpoint AKA 5th level psion with an int of 11 can do this 25 times a day. A 5th level phycic warrior with a wisdom of 14 could manifest this 12 times per day.

It only gets better from there if you do choose to use more powerpoints.

As I said. It is objectively better in every single way.

Again I'm not arguing psionics are overpowered. Though I personally would never play a non-prepared caster over a psion. Then again I dislike non-prepared casters as a rule anyway. I feel like they match a well-played wizard in power level, filling a role of a less versatile caster who is very good at the things they are good at.

Liberty's Edge

Every time I see psionics come up I just remember how I loved how GURPS handled everything: points.

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