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Psionic Class and Feats

I am just wondering how people have been running psionics, what were the weaknesses and strengths? What led me to ask this question is that in my game you spend your level feats for psionics, so you only gain at 1rst, 3rd, etc...This leaves psionic characters on the low end of psionic abilities. So the question is should there be a psionic class or a psionic prestige class? Should new feats be added? For example, Teleportation and Telekenesis only require one feat, should these have a feat progression like Telepathy. These are just some questions that came to mind. Also I want to discuss how psionic should be played or maybed changed, not if they should exist or not.
I haven't yet run into this in my campaign (which properly kicks off next month, but I have characters being generated this month) but suspect I have one player who will want to run a psionic-talented character. I'll have to see how it all works out, and post.
I've been pondering over the whole Psionics situation in T20 for a few days now. In Classic Traveller, from which this appears to be a direct port, you gained so many of the 6 psionic talents and after training got level 1 in each. After a month you could check to see if the level went up. The level was a measure of the characters full potential - i.e. up to his/her PSI score. Thus T20 limits your skills by the PSI score.

Learning these skills was just as easy/difficult as other skills. So, T20 shouldn't have them as Cross-Class, or at least having Natural Talent should allow that one talent to be Class.

You didn't need to buy the powers, you gained them once you achieved the necessary power level with that Talent. As has been pointed out, making you buy the powers but not the Talents doesn't work. Telekinesis doesn't require any extra powers to be bought, but Telepathy does.

In Classic Traveller, with Telepathy you gained the first 2 powers straight away because they were power level 1. So , why doesn't T20 give this? What's the point in playing a psionic who has to spent 1 or 2 feats to BE a psychic, but can't do anything?

One easy method to correct the mistranslation from Classic to T20, is to make the TALENTS as seperate feats, and they give you the 'Telepathy' etc. skills. Then, you can keep the Cross-class cost (except for Natural Talent), but explain that the normal cross-class limitation doesn't apply - only the current PSI score max.

The other method, is to make each Talent its own Prestigue class (like Specialist Mages.) This limits the 'power-gaming' of psionics, but also tidy's up the whole thing. Now, you can buy a level in Telepathy and get the FEATS of the available power at its expected level - indeed this would allow you to replicate the exact table from the Classic Traveller (Book 3) rules.

You could then add in other 'FEATS' concerned with using these class features, and using PSI.

T4 had a Psychic class, so it should be possible to have a class for T20.

At the moment Psionics do not work, and are far too underpowered - which is fine for Imperium citizens - but not for Zhodani.

After all, there should be a Psionic University with an attached 'Psionic Trainer' or 'Psychic' class.
I've been finding the Psionics a bit confusing myself - where does the Rank part fit in? I can't find any reference in the Psionics chapter to where this comes from; it just shows up when talking about talents. Is it the same as your PSI rating? Are you supposed to buy them with skill points like you do normal skills? (I don't like that - you already have to spend all your feats just to become a wimpy psionicist)

I think that too much was cut from this chapter during the editing. There isn't enough info to really create a character with psionic power of any merit.
Yes, ranks are bought with skill points (at cross-class costs unless you hobby Feat it). You have one skill per area (Telepathy, Telekinesis, etc) and you can't have more ranks than the by-level maximum or the PSI score, whichever is lower.

Psionics in Travelelr are expensive unless you are a carear psion, and we'll have to wait for that (though I definately want to see it).

Psionics aren't very well done in T20. They really should have made a prestige class, IMHO.

As it is, they're completely unbalanced. The more powerful powers - telekinesis and teleportation only need 1 feat each to buy, while telepathy, probably the least powerful, needs what, 6.

They just count on PCs not getting telekinesis and teleportation in the first place. That's not a very good method of balancing (nor is it much fun).
Originally posted by Shane Mclean:
Yes, ranks are bought with skill points (at cross-class costs unless you hobby Feat it).
Out of curiosity, where did you get this info? I can't find it in the PHB.

You have one skill per area (Telepathy, Telekinesis, etc) and you can't have more ranks than the by-level maximum or the PSI score, whichever is lower.
I suppose that makes sense, it would follow the details given (although the cross-class penalty seems harsh).

Psionics in Travelelr are expensive unless you are a carear psion, and we'll have to wait for that (though I definately want to see it).

Me too. In refining my character creation spreadsheet, I decided to make a psi character. He was tested as a kid and rolled a natural 18 for his psi strength, so I was somewhat disapointed at the fact even though he is now a 10th level character, he still has rather wimpy psi abilities (had to use some of his class bonus feats to even get him that far).

Now even if he had just been a single talent psi, he would still be pretty wimpy because of the cross-class limitation on his skill points - at level 10 he can have just 6 ranks - only the wimpy stuff can be done at this level. He can barely use the send thoughts talent, and still has to teleport naked. At 10th level!

Something is wrong here...
Originally posted by MichaelL65:
Originally posted by Shane Mclean:
Yes, ranks are bought with skill points (at cross-class costs unless you hobby Feat it).
Out of curiosity, where did you get this info? I can't find it in the PHB.

Page 188, under "Sphere Development" - "Once a character has an affinity with a sphere of influence and has been trained, he may list and develop it as if it were a normal cross-class skill, excpet the character's rank in the sphere may never exceed his Psi-score."

Don't be too quick to write off a Psion who isn't afraid to use the Hobby Feat to make the skill class, though. Expensive I know, but our Clairsentient, Teleporting Marine was lightning! That said, the game really needs a psion prestige class, as just making the skills class skills, and having bonus Feats to be used on psi-stuff will make a difference.

Our group discussed Psionics last night, and we reached a conclusion. The 5 Talents each require a single feat to buy them, and with for example 'Talent:Telepathy' you get all the powers listed under it as and when your skill 'Talent:Telepathy' gets enough Ranks to achieve it. The skills remain Cross-Class, unless you go with Hobby. We also decided that Natural Talent made THAT starting Talent an automatic class skill.

Finally, in place of any Psionic class, we decided that a Psionic would fall comfortably into the 'Professional' class.

In order to qualify to buy a 'Talent' as a feat, you still need to qualify under the Psionic rules whilst under Psi training. If you do not show any instinct towards a certain talent, you cannot buy it - ever.
Does anybody here have any experience with the Psionics Handbook for D20? I've only ever glanced through it in the store, and so don't have a good feel for it. Would it be possible to use the psionics in this book as a basis for the T20 psionics system?
Originally posted by CarlP:
Does anybody here have any experience with the Psionics Handbook for D20? I've only ever glanced through it in the store, and so don't have a good feel for it. Would it be possible to use the psionics in this book as a basis for the T20 psionics system?
From what I understand it's similar to magic, specifically the Sorceror class (except with power points?) and the powers are similar enough to spells that psionic using monsters can be listed in non-psionic books with spell-like powers. (exp. Githyinki and Mind Flayers)* Which is why I've not bought the Psionic Handbook.

You might also want to take a look at D20 Modern which has Psi-Powers. It's in the D20 Modern SRD

Hum, looks like the D20 SRD version is also posted but not finalized.

There should be pdf versions out there as well. And of course the actual books with more info.
Reviews of the Psionics Handbook at Enworld

* see the Mind Flayer entry here; note this listing is still in final review for public use, though it's been months

Thanks for the leads.

I've also got the D20 Call of Cthulhu, which has psionics in there. I'll take a look at that.

I'd like to make the system work while retaining the look-and-feel of the original Traveller psionics. I suspect that means changing the way the feats work for the powers, but I'm not sure, yet.
I agree on that, CarlP. I'm considering the four-feat per sphere approach suggested on another thread on COTI. Hopefully, though, the powers that be might consider the best of the suggestions should a Psionics Traveller's Aide ever come down the pike.

It is good to hear that this is a common problem. a friend of mine stated that COTI had made a psionic class, but presently it is on the cutting room floor. I would strongly suggest to them that they pick it up and put it into one of webzines.

Presently I am working with my Ref on making a psionic class, while trying to stay in the "system" that has been developed so far. Some thoughts that I have had so far that don't change the rules. Make a psionicist class with points, saves, etc... somewhere between the noble and the professional classes. Increasing psionic skill abilities would be easier since they would not have the cross-class cost or limit. I would also break up Teleportation and Telekenesis so that they were like the others talents. Telekensis might have Minor Manipulation, Major Manipulation, Telekenetic projection, and Telekenetic Shield, I would also probably include pyrokenetics and things of that nature. Under this system at 8-10th level you could be pretty good in one field and so-so in a couple of others. I would also add some feats. For example Psionic Endurance or Reserve in which for every two or three psionic levels you gain a psionic power point. Don't forget that the other limiting factor of a psionicist in the amount of energy it takes to use psionics. A telekinetic lifting 5 kg at short range cost 10 psionic points so on average the PC could do this twice in one day. This feat would allow him to do it three times.

I think that adding a psionics class would be the way to go. While still keeping it within the system and not making them overly powerful. What do you guys think. Also what type of character is the psionic in the Traveller universe? It is one of the questions that I am dealing with in determining if the noble or professional class progression is a better standard?
Originally posted by Reginald:
Is it me or is Traveller a low-psionic game?
I always thought it was, especially considering the CT setting (Psions were illegal and harshly suppressed).

T4 did have a psionicist career, which allowed for some beefier psions, but in M:0 psionics weren't yet illegal, so it made sense.

In a homebrew universe, or a game based in Zho territory and culture (which would be pretty much impossible to roleplay correctly) there could be a little more psi than in CT.

However, the D+D Psionics Handbook is way overboard for Trav, and doesn't have the right flavor.
I made changes to d20 Star Wars Force feats and skills and am using them as psionics in my T20 campaign. I am finding that d20 Star Wars meshes very well with T20. With a few changes, the Jedi classes make excellent psionicists.
At the risk of getting flamed...

I personally think the Star Wars d20 version is the proper use of skill-n-feat system for psionic, where the feat determine the discipline or "sphere" of psionic skills that person can learn.

Yeah, I finally got around to reading the T20 psionic rules chapter.

The only way to keep it low-psionic is limiting the skill point allotment, where one has to make some choices of acquiring/improving certain psionic skills as well as improving other skills.
Yes, Traveller is a low psionic game, but that isn't the problem. Psionics as they are presented in T20 seems to have safe-guards. First limitation, it is based on feats that have to be acquired through your levels. Hence a 20th level character has only five or six psionic feats. Second, limitation all the feats are attached to skills that are always double the cost as cross class skills. Third, psionic abilities have a very high power cost. On average I would say that it cost a PC about six points to use a power. That is about two or three uses of psionic ability a day. I think that all of this keeps it low...too low. The suggestions that I made would allow more focus on psionics that a psionic character would represent. I would also increase the number of feats so that Teleportation and Telekensis would have as many feats as the other skills. I would also put some rules on psionic combat. What is the DC for using empathy on someone. Is it there will rating, or what?
I just looked at Kenneth Hoods, work...It has some really nice work although it is probably a little too powerful for Traveller. It also gave me some ideas. What I am doing now is just giving you an idea of the thought processes that I am using. The more I think about it I believe that the BAB and saves should be somewhat between the noble class and the professional calls. I am leaning towards the noble class. On the subject of feats the Psionic class would have three categories of feats.

Psionic Feats/Talents, these are the listed ones in the Psionic section plus a few dozen more.

Psionic Enhancement Feats, these would be feats that enhance one's psionic ability such as Natural Talent or Basic Talent (I will explain later)

Psioinc Class Feats, these feats don't necessarily relate to psionic ability, but do relate to the life they live. Connections, Iron Will etc...

I still had some problems with how to connect skills to Psionic talents/feats, but maintain the Traveller T20 basis. I also had the problem of determining how to not let it appear over powerful. So here are some of the ideas that I came up with. (all names are subject to change)

Psionicist beginning feats would most likely be three feats, AP:Light, Psionic Reserve, and Basic Ability. Psionic Reserve would be that the Psion gain one extra Psi-power point per level in Psionicist, this is not the Psi Rating but the number of points available for using abilities. Hence a 10th level Psion with a Psi Rank of 14, would have a total of 14 power points. Basic ability would represent a Psionic Talent(Group) that would be considered in class. I am not sure how this would be determined. Possibly the first Talent that a character successfully rolls for becomes their Basic Psionic ability. I would also allow that the player could add other, but at a higher cost i.e. a second basic psionic ability would cost 2 feats and so on.

On the Skills vs. Feats I think that T20's vehicle systems works well as a basis. For an example, a character would have Telepathy as a Talent and the character would by skill levels in that talent. (1pt/level if a basic ability 2 if not)This would be what the character would roll for any Telepathy DC. Talent would be re-organized into fields. Telepathy for example would have Telepathy i.e. Communication, Defense, Empathy, etc. And, like manuevers different things that the PC wanted to do would have different DC and power costs. Taking Telepathy for example it may have the following: Detect Mind DC 5 + range modifier+ defense modifier, cost 2+range modifier; Read Surface thoughts DC 10+range modifier+defense modifier, cost 4, and so on. Taking our example PC with a total skill level of +10 (8 telepathy skill ranks, +2 Psi Score) want to read the surface thoughts of a mundane PC at medium would have a DC of 10+4 (a guess since I don't have the books with me)+0 (possible the targets Wisdom bonus)=14 and cost 7 points for 60 seconds.

This would be done for all of them so Telekensis Groups would have Telekenesis, Pyrokensis, Cyrokenesis, Kinetic Barrier, etc... with the manueaver that the PC is attempting determine the level. And they would still remain within the Traveller concept. Another example Kinetic Barrier may have a cost of 5 and +1 AC DC10, +2 AC DC15 and so on.

I will put some of this on paper and get some feedback. But what do you guys think.