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Psionics

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While it does not play a large role in the life of most Saelmarians, psionics is an important part of the world.  As a product of personal cultivation, the ability to manipulate the world with the powers of the mind has evolved as an accepted form of supernatural power in the Holy Saelmarian Empire.  Like Arcanum, the powers of the mind can be turned to both good and evil purposes.  However, unlike the powers of arcane magic, psionics has never proved capable of opening gateways to other planes and is therefore not considered as dangerous.

Although the true source of psionic power is a matter of philosophical and metaphysical debate, it appears that the energy of psionics is somehow related to both divine and arcane magic.  Magic spells, such as detect magic can also detect psionics, and spells such as dispel magic and antimagic shell can negate, suppress or completely cancel psionic powers.  Psionics and magic are not transparent to one another; they interact exactly as different types of magic interact.

Psionic Power Saving Throws

These rules are similar to those used for spellcasting.  In fact, they are largely reiterations of the rules presented in the Caster Saving Throw sidebar on the Magic page.  However, the key difference is that a Psionic power's DC is randomized.  (Note: I may decide later that the same holds true for spellcasting.  We'll see.)

In Saelmaria, the saving throw against a psionic power is affected by the level of the psionicist. As a psionicist increases his mental powers, he should gain more insight into the best way to manifest powers against others.  A 1st-Level power manifested by a 20th-Level psion is more difficult to resist than the same spell cast by a 1st-Level psion.  Additionally, as powers become more difficult to manifest, they also become a bit more difficult to inflict on others.  As such, the relative DC number decreases compared to lower-level powers.

A saving throw against a psionic power is determine by DC = 1d20 + Psionicist Level – Power Level + psionicist’s bonus for the relevant ability score.  For example, a 5th-Level Telepath (Cha 13) manifesting a 3rd-Level Power has a saving throw DC = 1d20 + 5 – 3 + 1 = 1d20 + 3.  This number is lower (for a 5th-Level Telepath) than that derived from the formula on page 33 of the Psionics Handbook (DC 1d20 + 4).  However, a 1st-Level power manifested by the same Telepath would have a save DC 1d20 + 5, whereas the Psionics Handbook formula would result in a save DC 1d20 + 2.

Initially, this change of rules sacrifices some of the deadliness of higher level powers until the caster reaches slightly higher levels.  A Psychic Warrior manifesting a 6th-Level power, say Breath of the Dragon, will have a minimum DC 1d20 + 13  (16th Level – 6th Power Level + 3 Str Bonus), which is still a pretty high DC for lower level characters to beat.  As that same Psychic Warrior grows in power to 20th Level, his DC rises to 1d20 + 17.  According to the old rules, his DC would always have been 1d20 + 9, regardless of whether the warrior had just learned to manifest 6th-Level powers or he had been doing it for years.

One may also notice that the DC for Breath of the Dragon would be different if a psion with the same physical Strength were to manifest it.  A 12th-Level psion can manifest a 6th-Level Power, making the DC 1d20+9.  Thus, while psions may manifest higher-level powers earlier, their experience with psionics as a whole is not as great (as evidenced by the lower DC for the same power).

This rule obviously makes it harder for characters to fight against psionicists of much higher level than themselves.  However, it provides a means of adjudicating the expertise a higher-level psionicist will develop with lower-level powers over time.  After all, at 17th Level a Savant should have better chance of successfully using the 5th-Level power brilliant blast (DC 1d20 + 14) than he had at 10th-Level (DC 1d20 + 7).