Psionics, Part Eight

Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, we have come to the eighth and, for the time being, final article of the series on the history of psionics in D&D. In this case, we’re talking about a class that is still in an early, public-playtest state, but it’s also the first exploration of any particular scale of how 5e will present psionics in its settings. Because things could still change, I’ll also discuss my own thoughts on psionics and how it ought to feel.

Psionics, Part Seven

In last week’s article, I discussed some of the peripheral support for psionics in 3.5 D&D. This week, I’m moving on to 4e, which means we’re going to the Player’s Handbook 3 and Psionic Power. 4e nominally has four psionic classes, but if you can find any credible psionic theme in the monk, you’re doing better than I am. I won’t be touching the monk in this article, since it isn’t psionic in any other edition, and it might get its own History of the Classes series someday. The Ardent, Battlemind, and Psion are the Leader, Defender, and Controller for the psionic power source, respectively.

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Dark Sun, Part Five, Part Six)

(Curious about the image? It’s Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s “Psyche Showing Her Sisters Her Gifts from Cupid.” Psyche, y’all.)

Psionics, Part Six

In last week’s History of the Classes, I looked at the Psionics Handbook and the Expanded Psionics Handbook, the core psionics rules for 3.0 and 3.5, respectively. This week I’m moving on to later developments within 3.x: one official WotC expansion, Complete Psionic; and one third-party alternate vision, The Psychic’s Handbook. (Yes, there’s a lot more psionic content for 3.x than that in circulation. I have to draw the line somewhere, and this arbitrary line is as good as any.)

Psionics, Part Five

Welcome back to History of the Classes, after a week of ridiculous polling and a week off. We return to the history of psionics in D&D, already in progress. This article discusses psionics in Third Edition D&D. I think I can fairly sum up the approach as making psionic classes as close to pre-existing classes and mechanics as possible – it’s a spell point system with some weird parapsychology mixed in.

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Dark Sun)

Could YOU Be Psychic?

Welcome to the first round of Tribality’s Psi-Testing. You will be pushed to the limit of your knowledge of D&D psionics in all their bizarre glory. Now, as every schoolchild knows, there are not two, but three degrees of psychic capability, made clear in the etymology of psionic. As Wikipedia explains:

“The term comes from psi (‘psyche’) and the -onics from electronics (machine), which implied that the paranormal powers of the mind could be made to work reliably.”

A psion, then, is one who masters the psyche, while a psychic suffers from it. A wild talent has one or two psychic elements that have erupted despite their best efforts to keep it together. Let’s find out what you’ve got.


Dark Sun Psionics

In today’s History of the Classes article, I’m examining Dark Sun’s use of psionics in AD&D Second Edition. As far as I know, it’s the only 2e setting – out of the glorious variety of 2e settings – that deeply embraces psionics and makes it a centerpiece of the setting. My resources are the revised Dark Sun Campaign Setting (the one reworked to fit Skills and Powers), Dragon Kings, and The Will and the Way. I also have a copy of the 4e Dark Sun Campaign Setting on the shelf, but I plan to fold that into my article on 4e.

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three)

Psionics, Part Three

Last time in History of the Classes, I talked about AD&D First Edition’s psionics, including a psionicist class introduced in Dragon. Especially from the other articles in that issue, it was clear that psionics in D&D were divisive at the time, even on a level of basic mechanical resolution. Second Edition’s Complete Psionics Handbook sets out to address the messy mechanics of OD&D and 1e psionics, bringing them into a new and more streamlined age. (Relatively speaking.) This is also the era of the legendary Dark Sun setting, but I expect I’ll push Dark Sun off to a future article.

(Part One, Part Two)

Psionics, Part Two

Last time in History of the Classes, we looked at the first iteration of psionics rules ever to enter D&D and the themes that the Gygax and Blume were addressing. Psionics are optional rules in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (First Edition), as they are in every edition, but this is the only time in six editions that rules for PC psionics appear in the core books. (Notably, some creatures in the Monster Manual may be psionic even when the developers have not yet published any other psionics rules at all.) I’ll also examine the articles on psionics in Dragon #78.

(Part One)

Psionics, Part One

Now that Mike Mearls has broached the topic of 5e psionics, History of the Classes tackles the topic I’ve dreaded more than any other. See, I read Eldritch Wizardry once, and I know I am about to lose my damn mind as I try to read it again and assemble meaning from its catastrophic glyphs and phonemes. As I proceed into 1e and 2e, this isn’t going to get better. The deeper goal is to answer for myself how to synthesize psionics into pseudo-medieval fantasy – and since there’s a Comments section, there’s unlimited room to discuss other perspectives.

Gith Player Characters for 5th edition

The githyanki and githzerai (sometimes referred to collectively as the “gith”) were created by Charles Stross for his own AD&D game and first appeared in the April/May 1979 issue of White Dwarf magazine. They gained their prominence in the D&D pantheon for their fascinating origin and unique powers, as well as gracing the cover of the 1981 Fiend Folio.

Though the history of the gith races and their link to theFiendFolioCover illithids (mind flayers) are described in the 5th ed Monster Manual, no article would be complete without mentioning the now-classic “Incursion”, a detailed campaign concept running through July 2003’s Dragon #309 and Dungeon #100. These two issues focused almost exclusively on the githyanki, granting detailed insight into their culture, new templates, alternate classes, prestige classes, campaign ideas, and even a mini-game where you play evil githyanki in the service of their queen. Dungeon #100 included the duthka’gith, the kr’y’izoth, the tl’a’ikith, and Vlaakith the Lich-Queen.