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Jo'Mase's AD&D Psionic Rules


Psionics are unlike any other power in the universe. Magic draws on energy external, using complex magical patterns and components. Clerics draw from a god who grants his energy to his cleric for the performing of miracles. Mages and clerics alike never truly understand the power they use, they merely understand how to shape and control it to some degree. Psionicists, on the other hand, draw on the power of their own spirits and must understand these powers they use to gain any form of control over them. The more the psionicist understands himself, the more he can understand his power.

Wild talents are those rare people who have a deeper link to themselves than the masses, and are able, through this link, to control a limited amount of their inner power. They must study and pursue self awareness as the psionicist or risk losing their talent to an unfocused mind and lazy spirit.

Psionic powers are, of all powers, the most difficult to master. Indeed, a psionicist will never truly master his power while mortal, as to do so would mean he had reached full and perfect knowledge of himself and therefore, the universe as a whole. Only in godhood can a psionicist find the chance to struggle for that ultimate of all goals. As the psionicist gains in knowledge, he will discover he has other powers in his possession, and can seek to expand his grasp by learning of them, or concentrate on what he knows already, to achieve a greater understanding(how he spends his power points).

The pursuit of this self awareness is the true goal of the psionicist, the power gained is only a reward and tool to help in his further search and struggle. Because psionic powers rely on the understanding of ones self, the ability of others to resist their power is also dependent on that persons self awareness. Thus, although the great heroes of the world(PCs) often increase in power and this power helps them resist(better saving throws) the other powers of their universe(magic, divine power, etc), many are little more self aware than when they began their quest for purpose to their lives. This leaves most, regardless of power(level), vulnerable to the psionic power of those more in tune with their true self and true purpose in life.

Many psionic powers allow only 1 chance to resist(no saving throw if Mind Blank fails), the Mind Blank ability of all sentient life. But many have weak wills and little of the wisdom required to really resist(The Mind Blank Power Score of WIS -7 gives a very low initial rating for those with average or even good wisdom). Thus, psionicists are very dangerous foes to those of shallow mind and hollow pursuits(low wisdom). This makes psionicists very powerful and respected by those who understand what they can do. This fact that their power requires an understanding of themselves also makes the psionicist's powers somewhat unreliable. Unlike a memorized spell that never changes upon learning, or a prayer that becomes habit to the priest who uses it, psionic powers are new every time a psionicist uses them! He must re-master his spirit and bring it under his control to succeed. This prevents psionicists from grasping more than a limited number of powers. Once he has grasped a power, he must spend so much devotion toward it that it becomes a part of his mental focus. Although these powers come from deep within, and often use the psionicist's body as a medium for transference, the power is so in tune with the natural biorhythms of the psionicist that they cause him no fatigue.

Unlike mages or clerics, a psionicist cannot change his powers by simple memorization of old formulae or prayers, his power is a part of him, alive within him, if he neglects it, like any life form, it withers and eventually dies away. Thus, the psionicist must choose which part of himself to develop, then must devote a part of himself to that new ability for the rest of his life, it becomes like a child within him, he cannot simply switch from it to another on a whim! This makes psionicists very different from others, among all others, perhaps the psionicist is the only one who truly grasps the power of full commitment to something.

The New Psionics System

Psionicists are treated a bit differently under this system, but only with regard to the way they obtain their powers, their basic class abilities are unchanged. All psionicists begin their careers with the Telepathic Discipline open to them. This is the basis on which all psionicists begin their quest for personal awareness. Until new disciplines are taken by the psionicist, he is limited to only learning Telepathic powers. Because this is the basic discipline of psionic power and deals with the very core of psionic potential, the mind, psionicists are often referred to as Telepaths. Thus, Telepathy is most every psionicist’s Primary Discipline, which means he can never spend more PPPs into any other discipline or its powers than he does into his Telepathic discipline’s powers. Some psionicists, however, do not focus on Telepathy as most do, and may have another discipline as their Primary discipline. This is only possible if the psionicists spends 3 PPPs at 1st level to take another discipline, and then spends 4 or more of the remaining 7 PPPs he has for 1st level into this other discipline. This discipline would then become his primary discipline. Thus, these psionicists would be known as Clairsentients, Psychokineticists, Psychometabolists, or Psychoporters depending on what their primary discipline was.

Learning Powers, Improving Powers and Gaining Psionic Strength Points(PSPs)

Each level a psionicists has gives him 10 Psionic Power Points(PPPs). Thus, he starts with 10 PPPs at 1st level, and gets 10 more each level he advances after that. These PPPs are the building blocks that all psionicists use to define their powers and personal psionic development. Each PPP can be spent to obtain new disciplines, new powers, improve existing powers and finally, gain PSPs. Wild talents get their power as usual, with the usual number if initial PSPs. But instead of gaining 4 PSPs per level, they get 1 PPP each level, to be spent as they wish, on PSPs or improving their skill. These PPPs cannot be used to gain new powers, as the wild talent has no actual access to any discipline, gaining his powers by a wild fluke of innate discovery, thus is unable to progress except in the power or powers he gained as a wild talent. If the wild talent desires to train himself in a discipline, he would then become a normal psionicist, either becoming multi-classed, or dual-classed as the cast may be. Below are listed the powers and points PPPs can buy, and the cost for each.

Spending PPPs Can Give:

Disciplines(3 PPPs): for 3 PPPs, a new Discipline is opened up to the psionicist. A psionicist can only learn powers within a discipline open to him.

Sciences(2 PPPs): for 2 PPPs, a new science within any discipline open to the psionicists can be learned.

Devotions(1 PPP): for 1 PPP, a new devotion within any discipline open to the psionicists can be learned.

Psionic Strength Points(5 PSPs per PPP): for every PPP a psionicists spends towards exercising his mental discipline and internal endurance, he gains 5 PSPs. This is the only way a psionicists can gain these vital points required to fuel his powers. Wisdom is required by the psionicists to determine how much effort(ie. PPPs) should be spent here, rather than spent on learning new powers, disciplines or improving existing powers.

Psionic Improvement Points(5 PIPs per PPP): each PPP a psionicists spends toward improving his mastery in existing powers, gives him 5 PIPs. These PIPs and their use in improving the skill of a psionicists in his powers, are detailed later.

Psionic Power Ratings

Each psionic power, whether science or devotion, a psionicists learns, begins with an initial rating, that determines the psionicist’s skill in this power. This rating will always begin at a low level, when the psionicists is but a novice, but over time, and with effort, the psionicists can improve upon these ratings, becoming skilled, expert or even a master in the power or powers he possesses. Below, I detail the method for determining the Initial Rating of a power, and how to improve these powers. This system is identical to the Proficiency Rules system I use for handling NWPs.

Initial Ratings of Psionic Powers

To determine the initial rating, just find what the original AD&D rating for that power would be. Divide this AD&D rating by 3(round off), to arrive at the Initial rating for the power in question. So someone with a 16 WIS would have a Mind Blank rating of 3(the AD&D rating of WIS-7 is 9, which gives 3 when divided by 3). For DMs who wish to allow partial purchase of sciences(spending only 1 PPP instead of the usual 2), should cut the initial rating, as determined above, further in half(rounding down), and allow no improvement of this power with PIPs until the other PPP is spent, which would give the psionicists the full initial rating for the science, and allow improvement with PIPs.

Improving Psionic Power Ratings

The initial rating will usually be very low, which means psionicists will initially struggle to use their powers. However, over time, these powers can be improved. Improving power ratings is normally limited to a maximum of 1 point of rating improvement each time the psionicists gains a level. 1st level psionicists are allowed to improve their initial ratings by up to 1 point in this way, and each level gained allows another 1 point improvement to each power the psionicists has. Thus, powers gained later, will usually be less mastered(less chance to improve them) than those the psionicists has held since creation. This 1 point per level improvement limit is the normal limit for all psionicists, but it can be violated, however, only at a high cost and only if the psionicists can handle such increased development.

Violating Rating Improvement Limits: for each extra point of improvement the psionicists desires for a power, he must pay an increasing improvement cost in PIPs(the basic system is detailed below). The 1st extra point costs double the usual cost for such an improvement. Additionally, if this is attempted, the psionicist must first determine if he can handle this increased improvement rate. Before the PIPs are spent for this extra point, the psionicists must roll a d20 check against the current rating of the power he is trying to improve in this way. Only if the roll was HIGHER(that is right, only if he actually FAILS the roll in the usual sense) can these PIPs be spent to improve the rating that extra point. If the roll was not higher, he cannot spend the PIPs on that power, and must wait until next level to improve it further. Training time/cost for this extra point is likewise doubled. Assuming the psionicists was able to proceed and improve the power that extra point, he can try for another point of improvement, which requires another d20 roll against his now improved(current) rating score, to allow it, as above. The cost for this 2nd point of improvement over the 1 point limit is now tripled in terms of both the PIP cost and training time/cost. This pattern is repeated, with the cost increasing 1 multiple factor(quadrupled, quintupled, etc.) for each extra point, and the d20 check must be passed for each desired improvement in this fashion, as above.

The Skill Rankings and Improvement Costs Within Each

Each power has its own rating, as detailed above. This is similar to the power score of the original AD&D system. However, each range of ratings falls into 1 of 4 Rankings: Novice, Skilled, Expert and Master. Each ranking has its advantages or disadvantages, and requires its own PIP cost for improvement. Although similar to the NWP system I use, it does have a few different rules.

Novice: those with a power rating of 1-6 are considered novices. They gain the usual benefits of the power, but if they fail a check by 10 or more points, it is considered a serious blunder of some kind, due to their lack of experience. The Novice is permitted a save vs. paralysis with a -1 per point over 10 the roll failed by to avoid the blunder, but if the roll was a 20, this save is not allowed. The negative effect is the same as if the psionicist rolled a 20. If this has no special effect, then nothing special happens(unless the DM wants it too). Those of this ranking cannot perform extraordinary feats(see below) within their power, ordinary uses of the power are all that they can manage. A roll of 1 has the usual effect, without a chance to avoid it. Improving a rating in this rank costs 1 PIP per point of rating improvement for devotions, 2 PIPs per point of rating improvement for sciences. However, going from a 6 to a 7 rating, costs 2 PIPs for devotions, and 4 PIPs for sciences.

Skilled: those with a rating of 7-12 are skilled. They get the usual benefits of the power as in normal AD&D. When attempting an extraordinary feat(see below), they must pass their skill check with the accompanying penalty, and failure indicates they do not achieve the desired result, plus, if they failed the check by 10 or more points, they suffer the same serious blunder result as for a Novice in this skill. They may also make a save vs. Paralysis with a -1 per point over 10 the roll failed by to avoid the blunder, if it was not a natural 20. This serious blunder result can only occur if the Skilled user is attempting an extraordinary feat. When using the power normally, only a 20 can cause this negative result(if any). A roll of 1 still has any negative effect, however, and the skilled psionicist cannot avoid it. Improving a rating in this rank costs 2 PIPs per point of rating improvement for devotions, 4 PIPs per point of rating improvement for sciences. However, going from a 12 to a 13 rating, costs 3 PIPs for devotions, and 6 PIPs for sciences.

Expert: those with a rating of 13-18 are experts. They get the usual benefits, plus, do not need to make normal power checks even when such a check is usually called for. They are assumed to succeed at the usual use of their power, but can only ignore such required checks if the penalty to the check(when attempting an extraordinary feat, for example) at hand is -2 or less. For purposes of mechanics, if a number is required, consider these automatic successes as if the expert rolled 1 less than his power score, since a power score result can only be achieved by rolling normally, or via an extraordinary feat(see below). If the situation required a check at a -3 or more penalty, they must then make the check, but reduce the penalty by 2 points. In addition, if they attempt an extraordinary feat, yet fail their skill roll, they merely fail, and are not subject to the serious blunder result possibility of the Skilled ranking, but a natural roll of 20 has the usual effect on these experts, except they do get a save vs. paralysis to avoid the effect of the 20. The reduced effect a roll of 1 imposes is still suffered by the expert, though he can attempt a save vs. paralysis to ignore it. Regarding the automatic success of certain power checks, when such a check is opposed(such as in Psychic Duels), the Expert must then roll the check, but with a +2 bonus to whatever the roll would have usually required, see Psychic Duels and Opposed Rolls below. Improving a rating in this rank costs 3 PIP per point of rating improvement for devotions, 6 PIPs per point of rating improvement for sciences. However, going from a 18 to a 19 rating, costs 4 PIPs for devotions, and 8 PIPs for sciences.

Master: those with a rating of 19 or more are true masters. They get the usual benefits and can ignore normal power checks as experts can(if a power score feat was not chosen by the master, treat this automatic success just as for an expert, as if the master rolled 1 point below his power score), but can ignore such checks even when they require a check with up to a -4 penalty. Only checks which require a -5 or greater penalty force a master to actually make the check, and even then, he reduced the penalty by 4 points. Because these automatic successes can sustain up to a -4 penalty and still not require a roll, the master can always perform extraordinary feats at least up to -4 with no hindrance, assuming no other penalties exist. As with Experts, Masters are not subject to serious blunders when attempting an extraordinary feat, and can even ignore the negative effects of a roll of 20. In addition, Masters who happen to fail their checks when attempting extraordinary feats, do not totally fail, as with Expert or Skilled users, but are considered to still have achieved at least an ordinary success(in this case, count the success as for the expert automatic success, and do not give the master a power score result as he is usually entitled to). However, if a natural 20 was rolled on the failure, then the master does fail, but that is all, he suffers no other negative effect. Masters ignore the negative effects of 1 results, treating them as ordinary successes, if they were forced to make a roll at all, however, the 1 roll does only give an ordinary success, even if the master was entitled to a power score result or similar such bonus from an extraordinary feat or any other source. Regarding the automatic success of certain power checks, when such a check is opposed, the Master must then roll the check, but with a +4 bonus to whatever the roll would have usually required, see Psychic Duels and Opposed Rolls below. Improving a rating in this rank costs 4 PIP per point of rating improvement for devotions, 8 PIPs per point of rating improvement for sciences.

Extraordinary Feats: these feats can only be attempted by those Skilled or better in their power. Skilled users can attempt a feat with up to a -4 penalty. Experts can attempt a feat with up to a -8 penalty. Only masters can attempt feats with a -9 or more penalty. Such feats are limited only by the imagination, and DMs must assign penalties as they see fit, using some of the feats below as a guideline.

Avoid Blunders: for a -2 penalty, the psionicists can ignore any negative results that a 1 or 20 roll would inflict, if such is rolled. Treat the 20 as an ordinary failure and the 1 as an ordinary success.

Power Score Result: for a -4 penalty, as long as the psionicist succeeds his check, count it as a power score result. This is a favorite with Masters.

Speeding Up Psionic Activation: each phase the psionicists desires to speed up the activation of his power by imposes a -4 penalty to his power check.

Telepathic Contact: contact is no longer a power(see Contact below), but the former penalties which would have applied to contact(when contacting over a distance, or contacting an alien mind), now apply as power check penalties to any telepathic power which formerly required it. More on this below.

Contact, Telepathic Powers, Defense Modes and Mind Blank


Contact is no longer a power, but is merely used to determine the cost of using other powers that formerly required it. The power score modifiers that formerly modified the Contact power's score, now directly modify all Telepathic power checks that before required Contact in order to use the power(the Contact modifier acts as a penalty to the power check). The ability of defenders to impose a -2 to the power check of telepathic powers used against them, only applies if that is the only thing the individual does that round. This -2 penalty is in addition to any defense the individual may have from use of Mind Blank or a full psionic defense mode. Finally, the power score and 20 roll failure result of Contact now apply to all telepathic powers that required Contact, and are in addition to any other specific results of this type the actual telepathic power may have.

Telepathic Powers

Telepathic powers now contact a mind directly, merely using the Contact power information to determine range/alien mind modifiers, and base or additional cost as required. To use a telepathic power on a mind, the telepath just rolls his power check, modified by any Contact penalty that might apply, and compares it with any defense the target may have, using the opposed roll/psychic duel rules below. All sentient beings have Mind Blank as their natural defense, and if they abort all other actions that round, they can penalize the Telepathic power check of the opponent by -2. If the attacking telepath wins the psychic duel against the target’s defense, he is in, and his power takes effect that round, as if in contact with an open mind, otherwise, if the defender wins or the attacker fails his power check, even if the defender failed also, he is repelled. Those powers with a maintenance cost can be maintained once this initial contact is gained, and the attacker need not roll his power check further, just pay the maintenance cost, unless his contact is opposed by the target using a defense mode, in which case the attacker need only roll the psychic duel if the defender’s defense power check was successful, otherwise, the attacker wins by default. If the telepathic power of the attacker has no maintenance ability, he loses contact automatically after his telepathic power has its effect, and he must break into the target’s mind all over again to employ another power which requires such contact. These telepathic powers, usually attack powers, are specialized one shot pulses of mental energy, designed to seriously impair the target, but not designed to hold his shocked and open mind open, as maintenance capable powers can do.

If telepathic intrusion is gained, a target can try to severe the contact in the following rounds by using his defense mode. Such a defensive attempt at ejection requires a normal combat action, it is not a free action as when defending against initial contact. If the defender does this, he must succeed on his defense power check, and win another psychic duel against the attacker. If the defender is defeated in the duel, or fails his defense power check, the attacker remains in his mind. The attacker gets this psychic duel roll for free, it does not require an action for him, as he is already in, and has the advantage. If the attacker succeeds in this duel to eject him, his contact remains, and he does not need to pay the initial contact cost again, just the usual maintenance cost. If he loses the psychic duel, he is ejected, but can attack again if he desires, with the usual initial contact cost and power check penalties imposed by the target’s defenses if he has an action left.

Regarding the former ability of telepathic attack powers to strike twice per round, this is eliminated, as the tangent mechanic no longer exists. The attack power, when it gets through, has the same effect on the target as it had on a open mind previously.

Defense Modes

These modes allow the user to resist telepathic intrusion. Once successfully initiated, they resist all telepathic powers attempting to enter the defender’s mind for that round. The psychic duel mechanic is used to determine who wins, see below. There is a special consideration when a science and a devotion are pitted against each other. If the telepathic power is a science, and meets a devotional defense, the defense power check if penalized by an additional -4 above any other penalties the psychic duel may impose. If the reverse occurs, a telepathic devotion power meets a science defense, the telepathic power check is penalized by -4 above any other penalties. Thus, sciences are superior to devotions when they meet each other in psychic combat.

The psionic attack powers vs. defenses power check modifiers are not used anymore.

Mind Blank

All sentient creatures have the Mind Blank defense mode, this power is not considered a use of psionics as far as psionic activity is concerned, however it is still considered a power for purposes of those other powers that affect or disable psionic powers, like Mind Thrust, for example. This defense is the mind’s natural defense against psionic intrusion. To replace the Mind Blank defense, I have created a new defense mode, see link below. All individuals can improve their Mind Blank ability, by spending PPs(which act as PIPs for Mind Blank only) and following the usual psionic power improvement cost. Psionicists can opt to improve this natural ability as well, and can spend either PPs or PIPs to improve it, whichever they desire. The Mind Blank counts as a telepathic devotion for purposes of psychic duels.

Psychic Duels and Opposed Rolls: if 2 or more psionicists use a power against the same object/subject, or a telepathic power meets a mental defense, then a psychic duel, as detailed in AD&D, determines the victor. The psionicist who rolled the highest on his power check, and succeeded, wins. Ties indicate a psychic deadlock when there is no defender(such as telekinetic wrestling over an item), with neither having control/victory, which is resolved the next round by another duel. If the psychic duel involves an attacker and a defender, the attacker has the burden of powering through the defender’s defense, so any ties go to the defender. The opposed roll is handled normally when the two opponents are equally matched, that is, when they have the same skill Ranking. However, if one opponent is less skilled than the other, the less skilled opponent, suffers an extra penalty to his power check during this opposition duel. For every Ranking below the superior opponent he is, he suffers a -4 penalty to his power check. If this places his check at 0 or less, he cannot oppose the superior opponent, and the superior opponent wins by default, if his power check succeeds.

Thus, a psionicist who is expert(rating 15) in a telepathic science and uses it against another, who defends only with his Mind Blank, which counts as a telepathic devotion for this purpose, in which he is only skilled(rating 10) suffers both a -4 to his defense check for being 1 rank less skilled than the attacker, and another -4 because the telepathic power used against him is a science and his defense is only a devotion, imposing a total of -8 to his power check. Because his Mind Blank was a 10, he must roll a 2 or 1 to succeed, and must roll above the roll of the attacker. Thus, the attacker is very likely to win against such an inferior defense.

Power Boosting: single class psionicists can boost their powers as a mage or priest can his. By paying the cost again on top of the initial cost, the psionicist can either boost his effective level by 1, remove 1 point from any penalties against the power, or increase his effective power rating by 1 point. The psionicist can boost his level to at most double his normal level. He can boost his score to as much as double as well. He has no limit to how many penalty points he can remove, but can only remove actual penalty modifiers against that particular use of the power, and cannot boost his actual score once all such penalties are gone. He can only do 1 of the above 3 boostings on any 1 use of the power.

Although his initial cost is multiplied as above, once he succeeds, any maintenance costs are normal, as he is in and has powered through whatever obstacle was in his way. Doing any such boosting requires total concentration and the psionicist cannot use any movement or any other power that round, even if normally able to do so(such as when using defense modes). Each step of boosting increases the CT of the power by 1. The Mind Blank defense is a natural defense with no reliance on PSPs, thus it cannot be boosted in this way.

Psionic Speed Factor: all psionic powers with 0 prep. time are activated as if innate abilities, with speed of fast in the Player's Option: Combat & Tactics Book. In normal AD&D it has a speed factor of 3. This means the power activates in the round used on during the fast phase. If a prep. time is required, then the power activates on the fast phase of the round following the last round of preparation. A prep. time of 1 requires 1 round to prepare, so the power activates in the fast phase on round 2. If the power affects the user only, then it takes effect on the same phase it was activated(the user is already intimately familiar with himself, so no extra time is needed to "find" himself). If the power affects other targets, not just the user, then the user must spend a bit of extra time guiding the effect to it’s proper target(s), which means the power takes effect 1 phase after activation(because the user does not have the intimate knowledge of other targets as he has of himself, it takes a little while to "find" these targets). If the user meets psionic resistance against the power, this includes psionic defenses, natural mental resistance and targets that are very difficult to effect(like contacting plant life, much more difficult than animal life), the power takes effect 2 phases after activation(it takes time to both "find" the target and beat down or break through the resistance it puts up). If the psionicist/user is interrupted before activation, the power is ruined and the psionicist/user loses half the required PSPs. If the power activates successfully, and the psionicist is interrupted before it takes effect, apply the damage done to the psionicist which caused the interruption as a power score penalty. If the roll the user made for activation would still succeed after applying this penalty, the power takes effect normally. If this penalty makes the activation roll a failure, the power fails and the psionicist loses half the required PSPs.

High Sciences:

Just as magi have true dweomers and clerics have quest spells, psionicists have a special area of study that represents the peak of their study, high sciences. Only single classed psionicists can learn these powers, and only when they have achieved a level of 20 or greater. The psionicist can learn but a single high science and this takes his full attention to even manifest, much less master. These high sciences are individually researched by the psionicist, never learned from another. They must be of his primary discipline. This leads to each master psionicist having a unique power specially sculpted by and for him. The Dark Sun: The Will and the Way supplement details a few such high sciences.