Powers of the Mind: A Psionics System

I’ve been working on this on and off for a while, and I feel I’ve reached a point where there’s enough content to be worth sharing.


Directly to the PDF download page:

The following pages off that link have content.

Chapter 2: Overview
Chapter 3: Psionic Classes

Chapter 5: Psionic Powers

Chapter 6: The Psionic Campaign has notes, but no finished content.

To provide a summary:
-Psionic characters have a pool of PSPs and a power throw value (both based on class and level). All powers have a Difficulty rating (which maps to spell level, 1-6; devotions are 1-3, sciences are 4-6). A psionic character must succeed in a power throw and pay the PSP cost of a power to manifest it, then must pay the maintenance cost every time unit to maintain it. (Some powers cost X/round, some X/turn, some X/hour, etc).

-Four psionic classes and the psionic class value are in the Psionic Classes section.

-A variety of powers for each discipline (roughly ten sciences and twenty devotions each, though the exact number varies by discipline). The first numbers pass for cost and effect has been completed, but there was a lot of handwaving involved in designing them, and I am sure there are major balance problems just waiting to be discovered.

-There’s a full psionic combat subsystem that requires zero reference to a chart or table in play, it simply requires everyone who uses a power to know what that specific power does. If you don’t use it, you don’t need to know what it does. (That’s in the Overview).

More content is likely to randomly appear at times when I happen to update it.

If anyone manages to read it, and has thoughts or feedback, let me know! I think I’m pretty much completely sold on the power throw mechanic, but the specific costs and PSPs gained are still definitely up for review, and of course the effects of any specific power can be changed with ease.

Just reading it now. I like it. I’ve been working on something very similar for the last six months or so; basically an ACKS port of the AD&D 2nd Complete Psionics Handbook in my case.

One thing I noticed up front with your system is the fact that WIS modifies power throws. Personally, I avoided this. The reason is that ACKS mostly avoids improving class abilities based on ability scores, and, to me, that’s a real feature of Basic style of D&D. I’ll read through the rest of the document and try and give more meaningful feedback. Is it possible to download the whole thing somewhere? Or is it wiki only?

It is wiki only; at some point I might make it into a pdf, but that would be a future problem.

I could make an rtf document or word doc by just copying and pasting things, but you could do that yourself too :wink:

The reason Wis modifies power throws is twofold.

1 - Because the system is based on attack throws. (The psionicist power throw progression is identical to the fighter attack throw progression.) Attack throws are modified by a stat, so power throws are. (At least I used a single stat instead of the 2E method of 3 stats or the 3E method of six :P)

2 - Because I feel like it’s good for classes to have at least single stat they care about. It’s true that ACKS does try to minimize the importance of stats compared to later versions of D&D, but without Wis being an important stat for them, psionicist wouldn’t have any real stat that they care about. Yeah, they have Fighting 1 so they can make attack throws decently, but with a d4 hit die and no Precise Shooting on their class proficiency list, their ability to engage in physical combat is limited.

And yeah, my primary source was the 2E Complete Psionics Handbook. I also drew upon the 3E Psionics Handbook, the 3.5 Expanded Psionics Handbook + Complete Psionic, Dragon Kings, and The Will and the Way for powers when I couldn’t find enough that would port over well. (Psychoportation was particularly bad about this, where in the Complete Psionics Handbook, there are like 10 devotions and half of them are easy long-range travel methods that required significant alteration even in those cases where I managed to port them at all.)

I hereby declare it to be ‘the future’. I put together a PDF.

It’s a really crappy PDF. I just printed to pdf the printable version of each page and then combined them into one document. All of the links in the pdf version will send you to wiki pages, not to other parts of the PDF.


Awesome, and a time-traveller! My kinda dude. Thanks!

Looking at this two years(!) later, my personal preference would be to use a system derived from Dark Sun's revised psionics, which were simpler and more unified than the CBPsi by using Mental Attack Rolls and Mental Armor Class for both psychic combat and the manifestation of powers, with each power having a set MAC. I feel it's a bit simpler, since it can use standardized terminology, and they got rid of the tangent system (replacing it with a mind being opened by either dropping to 0 PSP or being attacked while non-psionic). There are definitely some things to be updated (most of the attacks require more PSP than they deal in damage), but it's a good starting point.

In the two years since this was posted, some things did happen and get written, including the finished version as a book available on DTRPG :stuck_out_tongue: (Which might go on sale soon as part of DTRPG’s Christmas in July thing.)

That said, while the core method for psionic combat didn’t change (see note below for more on why I stuck with it and like it), I did include three replacement optional methods for psionic combat. The first is based on opposed rolls; the second allows for the complete removal of psionic combat and replacement with saving throws (which is pretty much the whole system with a few notes), and the third is based on PSP damage with all attack modes except Psionic Blast having the same difficulty (using the same system as used to manifest powers with MAC vs Power Throw, basically). So if you want to, you could use that third system and it’d work basically that way!

The reason I like and stuck with the core system is that it was designed around the tenet: You only ever need to know what your own power does. The person using the defense mode doesn’t need to know the details of the attack mode, and the person using the attack mode doesn’t need to know the details of the defense mode. I designed it to work perfectly with limited information on the parts of the combatants, in part because I like the idea of just holding up cards and in part because it makes it much easier to run and play.

The revised psionic system for Dark Sun was definitely a big inspiration for it in general; you may notice a lot of similarity between the Power Throw/Difficulty mechanic and the MTHAC0/MAC system Dark Sun used.