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Thread: Cerilian Psionics
07-20-2004, 05:39 PM #1
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- Oct 2003
I'm a big fan of the new Expanded Psionics Handbook and was curious if anyone had some ideas for incorporating mind powers in BR. I see some very neat concepts dealing with nobels with telepathy. I realize that Cerilia was designed to be a low magic setting and thats ok, I was just playing around with some interesting campaign ideas.
ThanksThe Former Osric Ilien
07-20-2004, 07:20 PM #2
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- Feb 2003
> OsricIlien wrote:
> Hey everyone,I`m a big fan of the new Expanded Psionics Handbook and was
> curious if anyone had some ideas for incorporating mind powers in BR. I
> see some very neat concepts dealing with nobels with telepathy. I
> realize that Cerilia was designed to be a low magic setting and thats
> ok, I was just playing around with some interesting campaign
Canonically, there are no psionics in Cerilia/Birthright, though this rule
was sometimes ignored (the Hydra, in Blood Enemies, has a head which was
once a psion before being absorbed).
Throwing in psionic characters is not a big deal on an adventuring scale.
It`s nothing for a DM to tweak the setting to include psionic monsters or
On a domain scale, there are no holdings associated with psions, though.
Fighting men get law holdings, roguely types get guilds, wizards get
sources, and priests get temples. There is no corresponding holding type
for a psionic regent, nor can I easily think of one that could be slotted
in. Those four niches cover the major aspects of (fantasy) economic and
political life. Magic, faith, business, and nobility. You`d be
hard-pressed to come up with another that could drop in there.
As long as you`re ok with that, having psions shouldn`t be a problem.
They could rule provinces like anyone else, and should get maybe half RPs
from law holdings.
Origin-wise, I would have them come from Aduria or the original Basarji
lands (Djapar? memory going fuzzy). Perhaps, lacking true magic in those
places, they have unlocked the potential of their minds. A regent
campaign set there could have psions taking the place of source-holding
wizards, building large crystal and metal structures that channel the
flowing psychic energy of the populace into their minds, for use in
large-scale realm psionic effects.
07-20-2004, 07:27 PM #3
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- Nov 2001
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
Get thee behind me Satan.
No psionics in Birthright (at least not in Cerilia). If the door is opened then everything pertaining to psionics is allowable (or at least should be). The 2nd ed rules specified (alright recommended) that psionics shouldn't be used because of the power gained by blood abilities (something unique to Birthright). Adding in psionics just makes for an uber-powerful game.
Birthright is not a low magic game, it is a low magic item game. That is to say that there are fewer than normal magic items around, but these are on the more powerful side. There are 'fewer' wizards in Birthright, but they are in general more powerful (see realm magic), and there are still magicians to balance out the magic users.Duane Eggert
07-20-2004, 08:40 PM #4
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If you`re a fan of the Expanded Psionics Handbook, go
ahead and use it. Sounds cool. Personally, as an
experiment, I might suggest completely replacing
wizards with this psionicist... errr... telepath,
battlemind, whatever they`re called now. (I`m not a
big fan of psionics, myself, and hate the book.) It
seems like it might be interesting as an alternative
to the standard magic system as opposed to an addition
Psionics could be linked to Source holdings, only
allowable to blooded regents and elves, etc.
Magicians might just be low-level psions with less
It does open up some issues in regards to magical
items and such though. Can psions even make magic
items? Anyway, I don`t see why it can`t work out...
As far as running a campaign, I don`t see why psionics
should interfere any more than "traditional" magic
does. An emphasis on telepaths in a setting centered
around nobility does sound interesting from a DM
standpoint, but considering how few players specialize
in traditional Divination magic, I`m not too sure
players may find this as appealing as a fire-toting
To each his own.
Have fun. Let me know if you run into any problems;
I`m always interested to know how others are running
"Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson
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07-21-2004, 03:09 AM #5
I got into an email discussion with someone about psionics and monks in Birthright, here is what I said (I realize the math is bad in some places, but bear with me):
The General setup and holdings
The current setup of holdings is very reflective of how societies were
constructed and organized in European history. You can see in them, for
example, the "Three Estates" of pre-revolutionary France, or even if you
look at the Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe (Expeditious Retreat
Press, its almost like a history lesson for gamers). In MMS the premise and
organization of the book is that society was divided into Those Who Rule,
Those Who Toil (in this case the Bourgoisie, peasant don't really get
represented in govenrment), and Those Who Pray. This mirrors Law, Guild and
Temple holdings very well. Magic was injected into each social segment,
while in BR it is separated, as source holdings. Thus the holdings as they
are now are fairly representative and really don't need to be expanded all
that much. This is one reason that Bardic Colleges, for example, are not a
holding type, or why barbarians, rangers, and paladins don't get their own
Monks are easier for me, mostly because I have the PHB and Sword and Fist,
while I know very little about psionics. Your idea of monastaries is dead
on, but needs closer examination. The question you should ask is: What sort
of effect and influence do monastaries exert on the areas surrounding them,
that is on the domain level. I think that the effect can be two fold: first
of all, being lawful organizations, monastaries will tend to have a
stabilizing influence on their regions. Not only do they have groups of
individuals capable of fighting and protecting the countryside, but the
wisdom represented by the enlightened monks will probably be relied upon by
the people for matters of dispute resolution and such. Monastaries also are
philosophical institutions, in that they are strongly based on a set of
ethics, hence they will exert influence on the beliefs and moral systems of
the people surrounding them. If, as in basic D&D, they are not divinely
aligned, then this would fall under the purvey of a philosophical religion
(similar to confuscianism). Thus monastaries (and monks) should be endowed
with capabilities to rule Law and Temple Holdings. This would be simple to
accomplish: add the Warcraft (Sun Tzu-like) to their class skills and make
the requirement for regency from temple holdings "Ability to cast Level 1+
divine spells or ability to channel ki". This means that, while they would
not be able to gain regency from law and temple holdings as well as fighters
and clerics (who would have two of the required skills as class skills
instead of just one), they would be better as generalist regents of Law and
Temple domains that either a fighter or a cleric could manage.
As for the place of monks in the campaign world, that is more difficult
because none of the extant cultures say "Oriental Monastic Tradition". My
solution is to blame it on somebody else: the dead civilization of the
Masestians. The Masetians brought a tradition of monasticism with them
during their flight from the shadow, and it flourished in their empire
before its fall, although it did not receive greater penetration than this.
The Basarji, whose settlements and people intermingled with the doomed race
were the only ones to really pick it up after Deismaar, and even then it is
rare, most orders being affiliated with either Nesirie, their heiress of the
Masetian goddess Masela, or later Avani, the patron deity of the Khinasi,
whose portfolio of reason, logic and enlightenment allowed the cultural
bridge to be built. Most monastic orders of Cerilia are dedicated to and
affiliated with religions of these two godesses, and do not exist as
independent domains of their own. The only exception to this is the Monastic
Realm of Ghoumora (Which in Cities of the Sun is a theocracy of Nesirie,
making it a good candidate since one domain controls both law and temple
holdings), which lies in cultural heart of the old Masetian Empire, near the
city of Masetium itself (which is across a channel in what is now the
Serpant's Isle). The Island was home to the great monastic orders of the old
empire and even after the fall of the Masetians the people of Ghamoura, who
are ethnically as Masetian as they are Khinasi, maintained these traditions
and even allowed the wisdom of the monks to fill the void of temporal power
left by the collapse of Masetium.
As I said, Psions are harder. First because I know little about them, but
mostly because unless judiciously employed, they threated to overthrow the
entire establishment of Cerilia as it appears. This is because psionics as
it exists naturally is not restricted by a character's heritage: this is
logical, as the concept of bloodlines does not exist in standard D&D. Thus
while Wizards and Sorcerors are greatly restricted in numbers by the fact
that they must have bloodlines (0.1% of the population, and then wizards and
sorcerors (who is a DMG metropolis with 25,000 people can represent at most,
given my calculations, 0.5% of the popultation) make up only 0.00005% of the
population, or one person for every 2.5 million people (as opposed to one
person for every 250 people). Magicians would probably be as common as
wizards are in standard campaigns, or course their prevalence would vary
based on the regional cultural values. Thus you can see how having entire
units of Psions would upset the balance of power since their powers can
generally be described along the same lines as arcane magic (at least that
was the way it was in 2nd edition if I recall correctly).
So how to fit them into the Cerilian campaign? Well, they don't fit in as
those who rule, toil, or pray. But they do have seemingly magical powers (at
least powers that commoners not well versed in psionics would say were
magical). I recommend playing with the idea of Psionic sources. Psions,
according to the SRD, can have Psicrystals which basically function as
sentient conduits of their psionic powers. A Psionic regent can create
massive sentient Psicrystal constructions (filling entire cavern complexes)
that can channel the mebhaigl in a province, giving Psions the ability to
amplify their powers on the domain scale, thus creating Domain Powers in the
same way that wizards and priests have domain spells. Even though these are
technically sources (putting psions in competition with Wizard regents),
they are used in a different manner, as befits the unique abilities of
psions. Game wise, I would recommend changing the regency collection
requirements for source holdings. The Knowledge(arcana) can be changed to
Knowledge(arcana or psionics) and the requirement for arcane spellcasting
levels can be changed by apending to "Ability to cast arcane spells of level
1+" the additional option of "Ability to use psionic powers of level 1+".
Also Psions and Psionic Warriors should gain the Class skill of
Knowledge(Nature) [as it pertains to Mebhaigl], and Psionic Warrior should
gain the class skill Warcraft. Thus Psions will collect regency from sources
as well as wizards, while psionic warriors will be generalists in Law/Source
in the same way monks are generalists in Law/Temple. Initial Realm Powers
could simply be psionic versions of realm spells. Only one or two are
required. Make Psionic PCs make up and research later ones. It makes your
job easier. To make up for the fact that magic cannot usually be used to
counter psionics, and thus Realm Magic cannot be used generally to counter
Realm Psionics, Psion regents do not have the ability to forge ley lines
they are limited geographically like priests.
Now for the historical background. As with monks none of the extant cultures
seem to favor the appearance of psionisists, and I am struck by the
similarities of the source of monks power(ki) and psionic powers(internal
mentally discipline focus). Thus Monks and Psions share a related origin in
the Masetians. The Lost were ancient sorcerors imbued by Azrai to be able to
channel great magical powers in the same way as true spellcasters can.
However, Azrai was not the only one to take this tack to empower his
followers in the lead up to Deismaar. Masela also took the greatest of her
monks and imbued them with powers o self awareness and self control beyond
the ken of normal mortals. These individuals, 12 in number, were the first
psions. Only 4 of them survived Deismaar, and another died trying to defeat
the assaults of the Serpant as the awnshegh conquered the Masetian capital.
The remaining three withdrew from society at least from prominent society,
and lived out peaceful lives of contemplation and enlightenment. One of the
three married, and had children. It was discovered that her children also
bore the talents that had been given her by Masela, and the psion instructed
them in their use and responsibility. Now, a millenium and a half later, all
psions and psionic warriors can trace their descent back to this one
individual. They are a rare group of people, rarer even than wizards or
sorcerors, for not all of the psions descendents choose to follow the path
of the mind, furthermore, the psionic talents seem to be dependent upon the
divine bloodline that the psion was granted with her powers (as the lost
were granted divine bloodlines by Azrai). There is probably only one classed
Psion or Psionic Warrior for every 25 million Cerilians. In those lines of
descent where the bloodline has wasted away to nothing, the psionic
potential of the descendents has also vanished. Only one known openly
Psionic regent exists, a Psion in (you guessed it) the Khinasi Island state
of Ghamoura. This individual controls all the source slots on the island
(Which in Cities of the Sun are uncontrolled). This psion is strongly
affiliated with the monastic government of the island and generally acts as
a trusted advisor to Ghamoura's regent.
07-21-2004, 01:49 PM #6
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- Oct 2003
Duane, Your right that Psionics in 2nd ed was huge compared to any other power or class that existed. Though it is still powerful, I would not say it is more powerful than magic cast by wiz&sor. I certainly dont think Psionics is something that should be included in any regular published material-it doesnt fit perfectly with the setting.
Bearcat- Thanks, I dont own the 2nd ed material on BR and I'm sad for the lack of any. However I really like you ideas. I was trying to find a culture that would work well with even a minute Psionic presence. I think the Khinasi or a culture like the Masetians would be the way to go.
I have always pictured Mebhaigle as being similar to the Star wars- force. Everyone is effected by it and surrounded by it but only a small amount of people can actually manipulate it and use it for their own purposes. I think that wizards train them selves over long periods of study to effect Mebhaigle, while Sorcerers are born with the talent, kinda chosen by the land to weild magic. I can see Psionic characters being very similar. The land reaches out to a child and activates a portion of their mind allowing them to channel the power of the world itself. Instead of the arcane method that Wiz&sor use Psions use their minds as the focus for channeling Mebhagle.The Former Osric Ilien
07-21-2004, 02:09 PM #7
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- Virginia Beach, Virginia
Using psionics in BR is, of course, possible. But again if it is 'added' to the mix then it does overpower things quite a bit. People have mentioned how greater magic is limited by bloodlines and elven blood while due to the nature of psionics (which still function in many ways similarly to magic) have no such inherent limitations - this needs to be carefully managed in any system that imports psionics into BR.
IMO if I was to use psionics in BR I think that I would then use it to replace the existing arcane magic system. But this definitely messes with the setting material and causes a lot of 'story' related issues to crop up.
If psionics is limited to a certain culture, that only means teaching and learning the discipline to 'master' the ways of the mind are sourced from that culture. It would rather rapidly spread throughout Cerilia as the 'common' folk start to see a way to be made on par power-wise with those blooded folk "who think they can run everything".
Be very careful with balance here, it is a thin line to walk when psionics are concerned.
For some background info I would suggest reading blood spawn (a free 2nd ed download from WotC) which addresses the creation of the world and how the shadow world and normal world split. Psionic use could be tied into this event and possibly the shadow world itself.Duane Eggert
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