So, on to the next big topic of supernatural stuff, psionics. I had a couple goals I was shooting for here. First, I want psionics to feel different from magic; I think that 2nd Edition D&D had that going for it really well, but the system was all kinds of obnoxious, while 3rd and 4th Editions had a less obnoxious system that was very samey with magic, highlighting one of the setting weaknesses with Dark Sun (how can all these superstitious illiterates tell the difference between preserver magic and psionics, and why are they cool with the latter?), which ties into my second goal, to make psionics literally a part of daily life on Athas beyond just having a lot of wild talents roaming around out there. And third, there were things that were really neat concepts from early-edition D&D that I wanted to bring back in a less painful way.
So, first off, the Psionics section starts with Psionic Potential, detailing a new character stat that shows the impact of psionics on every conscious being. Anyone with a mind is vulnerable to psionic attack, though unless you’re using powers, it’s a pretty slow and inefficient way to actually hurt someone. This moves into Psionic Combat, where I’m adapting that whole “attack mode, defense mode” system from earlier D&D, but broaden it out so it isn’t just a subset of Telepathy (though it’s still really important for Telepaths because it’s still used to open minds and make them vulnerable to manipulation).
And finally, the section on Psionic Powers. Things are split up into the five psionic disciplines, like in 2nd Edition D&D, and powers are categorized as sciences and devotions as well. But rather than being just more powerful, sciences are the signature powers of the discipline. I’m trying for a telekinetic to seem less like someone using a power and more like someone who simply can move things with their minds, so sciences scale upward in Intensity while devotions are more like spells, with a set power level and limited scope.
I’m also trying to avoid the whole “power points” thing here, so instead, I’ve added a mechanic similar to the weapon breakage rule that makes every power usage slightly risky.
Of course, what’s missing here are the powers themselves; I have no intention of converting every single one, just like with spells, but I do want to throw out some examples next.