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Psionic mages have to be one of the most underpowered character types in the game. However I am currently playing a psionic psycologist named Mesmer (that looks alot like Frasier Crane with hair) I like the character because he makes for some interesting role playing mostly because of his chosen profession and reason for being in the shadows "The Criminal Mind: An on-going case study by Franz Anton Mesmer".

Psiconicist caint bond foci and thought forms are pretty weak, while they stay around longer than nature spirits they only really have one power(magic fingers) and you can only have one of them out at a time. Ive been thinking of ways to make them more balanced yet unique I thought about allowing them to have a maximum number of spirits equal to their charasma like hermatic mages but that would be way to munchkin.

Any thoughts or comments on how to make this a more viable character type?
QUOTE (Joker9125)
Any thoughts or comments on how to make this a more viable character type?

Play a hermetic mage with "psionic" spells.
A Clockwork Lime
Cray nailed it.

The Psionic rules were completely redundant, not to mention grossly underpowered compared to other options.
Well, i do play Shamans or psionics a lot. Tho i never played them as fullmage. I do dislike the idea of a psionic being able to summon something or even to summon an ally which is developing an mind of its own.

That kinda goes against me imagination of someone doing everything with their mind.

I am not sure if they should be stronger, even if i would like to have some of the mindspells a bit more more drainfriendly for Psionics. But i do not mind it that way.
Kanada Ten
Thought forms could be made more viable by giving them mental domains. The Psionic could only have one Form under direct control, but the former would follow the last command, just like shamans. The Mental Terrains would grant unique powers, too. The psionic should take on some aspects of the Mental state and maintain it while wishing to control the spirit.

Domains: Domination (Fear), Passion (Search), Regression (Poltergeist), Rational (Magic Fingers), Madness (Confusion).
A Clockwork Lime
I just don't see how "thought forms" fit in the concept to begin with.

It'd be easier to design it as a Priority B/25 Build Point concept that only has access to spells. In other words, an aspected Hermetic Sorcerer. Maybe giving a +2 die bonus on Control and Telekinetic Manipulation "spells" while suffering a -2 die penalty on "spells" that clearly don't fit into the theme.
Kanada Ten
I think that Though Forms make a great deal of sense. They work exactly how psiconics justify ghosts and spirits: mental imprinting. The idea that thought is so powerful it can survive without a body. Thought Forms are just a logical extension of that.
I never really viewed psionics as viable characters. They were introduced not really for playing but as an example of a person suffering from a form of psychological disfunction that is warping their magical abilities.

They brought it back in 3rd Edition mainly to be thorough. They're still heavily limited. Weak conjuring ability. No ability to use foci. Outcasts in the magical community. Finally they're a horrific role playing challenge because they simply do not believe in magic.
QUOTE (Kanada Ten)
I think that Though Forms make a great deal of sense. They work exactly how psiconics justify ghosts and spirits: mental imprinting. The idea that thought is so powerful it can survive without a body. Thought Forms are just a logical extension of that.

I still do not like the idea of thoughtforms, but i can life with them. What i cannot life with is an Ally-Spirit for a psionic. That goes far beyond a simple thoughtform, since they do develop their own mentallity and personality. That would be like the psionic is creating a second self.

I rather do take an aspected magican and put them onto the sorcery path. This way i do have access to all type of spells that fit into the whole psionic thing. Like Combat-, Detection-, Illusion-, Telekinetic- and Controll Manipulation as well as Transform manipulation Spells such as the Barriers.

That way i still have an psionic without having to deal with Thoughtforms and watchers. Okay i do lose the projection but i can life with that one.
A Clockwork Lime
They'd have been fine if they "conjurered" (manifested) "nature spirits" and/or "ancestor spirits" (psychic constructs), especially if they all gained that cool diviniation spirit power I remember seeing in some book -- might even have been MitS. If they were bad-asses on the astral plane, as they should be, that would have even made them a cool option in lieu of other choices. Harry Keogh from the Necroscope series is a perfect example of a "conjuring" psychic.

I have no idea why they're forbidden from using foci or the artificial limits placed on their "spells" though. A mentalist who focuses on illusions are nearly impossible to create without going against the recommendations for the rules (such as one who "clouds mens minds" to make themselves invisible). The same goes for a psychic who augments his physical abilities, since Health spells outside of Heal are don't fit their model apparently.

But as they stand, all they have is limitations with no inherent benefits whatsoever. Yet they still cost a Priority slot of A or 30 Build Points. Awful, awful rules.
Kanada Ten
I agree that Shadowrun gimped them, but I don't think the concept is unsalvageable. For spells I allow anything so long as the metaphor is mental. They wouldn't throw a fireball because that's just flashy, but they can start fires and manaball. The idea of summoning Ancestor spirits (Mental Matrices) using items with high psychic impressions is a good one. I really like the idea of Mental Domains; I take it I'm the only one?

As to ally spirits, remember that 2060 psionics have the advantage of knowing other "deluded" psionics can make them, so it has to be possible. I would image that a psionic's ally is like the clones in Multiplicity with the added feeling that a piece of their life is gone, imbued in the ally. Once they take that part of their mind back, the ally dies.
Awful, awful rules.

Yeah but I don't think the Psionic was introduced to be a viable PC. The Psionic was introduced as an attempt to provide an example of an awakened individual with a severe psychological problem that affected his magical abilities. The character was introduced to provide flavor to the Shadowrun universe. If someone actually wanted to play a psionic I'd try to balance it out by counting their denial of magic as one huge mental flaw.
A Clockwork Lime
So you're saying a pyrokinetic like the Firestarter wouldn't be hurling fireballs or flamethrower spells? smile.gif I can't think of very many spells that can't be shoehorned into a psionic concept one way or the other.
Frag-o Delux
Kanada Ten, how would the Domains work? I don't see what you are getting at. How would fear determine what and where the spirit can do, or what ever it is you are trying to do.
Kanada Ten
I don't think a firestarter psionic would "hurl" spells. I think he or she would manifest the fire on the targets bodies with none of the flashy effects of an elementalist. I agree that most spells can be modled to the psionic view, but they just wouldn't view most traditional spells as anything but excessivly flashy.
A Clockwork Lime
So you never saw Firestarter with Drew Barrymore, then?
Kanada Ten
The Mental Domains are like "personalities" or "states of mind" of the summoner. While in the Domination state of mind, the psionic can summon and control a Domination Thought Form who's power is Fear. The Though Form is still limited to the (1000 X Magic?) in Meters of the summoner and can only be commanded while the psionic maintained the Domination mindset. Once the psionic switched domains from Domination to Passion, the Domination Form would finish it's last command (or 12/24 hours) and then dissipate.

Much of the domain limitation would be roleplaying aspects. While in Domination, one becomes demanding and self-righteous which can be dangerous in any given situation. While in Passion, the psionic may seem like a zealot or lust stricken. Madness mindset would defiantly have drawbacks, and Regression would be child like behavior. Rational is the neutral mindset of most psionics. Does that make sense?

Clockwork, yeah I saw it, but that doesn't mean I think psionics should work like that. The girl was more of an Elementalist; her dad was the Psionic.
A Clockwork Lime
QUOTE (Vision)
Well, i do play Shamans or psionics a lot. Tho i never played them as fullmage. I do dislike the idea of a psionic being able to summon something or even to summon an ally which is developing an mind of its own.

That kinda goes against me imagination of someone doing everything with their mind.

Why is that? There are plenty of examples where 'psychics' either speak with spirits, banish them or call them up (as mediums). Typically, these are the spirits of the deceased, but sometimes they are demons or other kinds of supernatural entities.

I'd personally treat a psion as a form of shaman, while giving them a bonus on detection spells and a penalty on combat spells, and a domain choice similar to Raccoon (allowing either modern urban psychics, or back-woods hermits/monks).
Frag-o Delux
It makes since, but that still lends the Psionist to roleplaying again, which I think the whole thing is. I have tried a psionist before the rules were published and we just made it basically a mage/shaman but with a distintive style (not the flaw just how it is role played). It has been about ten years since I played it so I don't remember the exact rules we had.

QUOTE (Kesh)
Why is that? There are plenty of examples where 'psychics' either speak with spirits, banish them or call them up (as mediums). Typically, these are the spirits of the deceased, but sometimes they are demons or other kinds of supernatural entities.

Because a psionic is in my mind doing everything himself. He/She is focusing their own Willpower onto some effect. In Most cases it will be a instant effect or something that needs to be substained by their concentration, but not casting something that will "hang out" around them and await new orders.

Or having a "Thought" return and report its mission (speaking of Watchers) That just does not go with the psi thing and the focus of mentalpowers onto something.

To create a spirit, which are all cable of thinking on their own (maybe except the watchers), is like creating a second personality each time they cast something.

And no Psionic ever had contact with the Death or Supernatural Stuff. That are other people like fortunetellers, shamans, witches and this kind of people. Psionics do mindreading, levitation, mind- and sensetwisting.
QUOTE (Kanada Ten @ May 6 2004, 03:45 AM)
I really like the idea of Mental Domains; I take it I'm the only one?

I thought those were great. I also like "ancestor spirits," depending on the psionicist's "spin." A more psionicist with a gypsie angle, or an old school 19th Century mesmerist, might be more likely to summon the "ghosts of the dead." I also liked the Ally suggestion. A variant Ally for a psionicist might be a "spirit guide."
Eyeless Blond
QUOTE (Vision)
Because a psionic is in my mind doing everything himself.

Okay, let's combine this with the idea of Mental Domains, and try to make a workable Psionicist that people might be interested in playing. I really don't see why psions have to get picked on; it's no more different from "normal" magic than an adept choosing his somatic way; the psionicist is just choosing a "mental way."

To start off, we'll get rid of that stupid idea about foci, and allow psionicists to bond whatever foci they want, in the same way that other magic users can. Foci tend to be crystals or expensive gems and such; their presence helps the psionicist, "harmonize his thoughts," or whatever.

The idea I'm going for here is that, to the Psionicist (psion for short), there are four basic emotional states. Of course there are more emotions, but these are the most primal, the ones powerful enough to have their own existence seperate from the metahuman mind. There are four basic Mental Domains: loosely described as Love and Hate, Rationality and Fear. Rather than physical places like shamanistic domains or abstract concepts like Hermatic elements, these mental domains are basic mindsets which color the psion's ability.

Determining which Mental Domain a psion is in can be left up to the GM, or you can use the rules here. There are two traits which determine the Mental Domain of a psion: Distraction and Abstraction. If he has five or more total boxes filled in his Stun and Physical Condition Monitor, then the psion is Distracted, otherwise he is not. If he has used more Mental Attribute-linked skills in the past hour than other Active skills, then he is Abstracted, otherwise he is not.
If the psion is Distracted and not Abstracted, then he is in the Domain of Hate.
If the psion is Distracted and Abstracted, then he is in the Domain of Fear.
If the psion is not Distracted and not Abstracted, then he is in the Domain of Love.
If the psion is not Distracted but is Abstracted, then he is in the Domain of Rationality.
If a Mental Psion wishes to act as if he were in a different Mental Domain than the one he is currently in naturally, as an Exclusive Complex Action he can make a Willpower(cool.gif test; for every two successes he can change one of his mental traits (eg: change Distracted to not-Distracted.) for up to ten Combat Turns.
Make sense so far?

Like the Hermatic elements, each Mental Domain corresponds to a school of spells:
Love: Health
Rationality: Detection
Hate: Combat
Fear: Illusion
There is no Domain for Manipulations; the Manipulation school is to psions what the Health school is to hermatics.
An interesting aspect of the psion's use of magic is how it is affected by background count. Because of the internal nature of a Mental Domain and how it interacts with a psion's spells, any effects of background count are halved (round down) when a psion is casting a spell from a school in his current Mental Domain (eg. a psion in the Hate domain only has a +2TN modifier to Drain Resistance when in a background count of 4). However, the modifiers are increased by one-half when the spell is in a different Mental Domain.
Psions can specialize in a particular mental domain as an aspected mage (as elementalists specialize in a single element), or as a full mage (as elemental mages do, receiving the same bonuses.)

According the Psionicist view, Conjured spirits are nothing less than pure thought given form, or, if you perfer, a mental process seperated from the mind. These "thought forms" work in the same way as spirits do, and the psion can have a maximum of (Int/2) thought forms active at any one time. Unlike normal spirits or elementals, thought forms seem to degrade over time: every hour after "Summoning" a thought form it loses one point of Force, until it finally disappears upon reaching zero Force.

Here's where I run out of ideas. What would be good stats and powers and such for different thought forms?
Nice, but very complex.

I prefer to make Psionicist full mages, removing the stupid foci and spell restrictions. They can summon thought forms, and banish anything. Thought Forms get the expanded-range Search power, and divination in their Great Form.
I might prefer to see psionicists a little more along the lines of the shamanic paths with possibly the use of the Concious Mind, Id, Ego, and Superego as the "totems".

As for foci, I'd also lift the ban to let psionicists use foci crafted by psionicists (but not other mages). That seems to be more of a happy medium than no foci, at least.
QUOTE (Joker9125)
Any thoughts or comments on how to make this a more viable character type?

A smartlink, tons of cyber, and heavy artillery. OR just play a physad.
Eyeless Blond
QUOTE (Cain)
Nice, but very complex.

True, but no moreso than, say, Wujen.
Austere Emancipator
QUOTE (Eyeless Blond)
If the psion is not Distracted and not Abstracted, then he is in the Domain of Love.

The above seems like it might make playing psionicists interesting overall, but I have to take exception to this. You've gotta call it something else, because there's no way in hell love is actively physical or not distracted.
Eyeless Blond
Heh, maybe I should change a few labels then? For "Distracted" I was more looking for something danger-oriented; a guy knows he's in trouble he's in Fear or Hate mode; otherwise he's in Love/Peace or Rationality. For "Abstracted" I was thinking more of how cerebral his mindset was: is he thinking about ideas (Abstracted), or about physical things (non-Abstracted)?
Moonstone Spider
What about stating that a Psionicist can change her emotional state with a willpower test? After all the whole point of the psionicist is her awesome control of her own mind. This could lead to some interesting role-playing hooks for a character who can literally feel whatever she wants to.
Person 404
Changing emotions at will, you say? (Arethusa, don't follow that.)
Here's a question for you. Psionics are effectively magicians who don't believe in magic. Their denial is so great that it twists and limits their own magical abilities. But can they be cured?

What if after a particularly nasty enounter with a dragon (where the psionic attempted to convince the dragon that it was not a highly magical creature but in fact a delusional genetic mutation) the psionic's runner group gets him some serious psychotherapy and shows him magic that can't be explained by mental power until he finally cracks and admits to the existence of magic?

A Clockwork Lime
Personally I think the whole "doesn't believe in magic" part of the psionicist is silly, but maybe that's just me. Just because their magic manifests in a fashion different from others, that doesn't mean jack. Hermetic magicians, shamans, path magicians, and wujen all have different manifestations of their abilities, but they're not blatantly crippled like the psionicist is.

But oh well. I just file the psionicist, as written, into the same pile of drek that nymphs and gnomes are filed into. The "lets break the philosophy of the game in order to shoehorn a character concept into a specific class" pile. smile.gif
Searching SR websites I stumbled across this site.

His rules set them up more like physical mages, but at least the character concept seems more-or-less sound. (Also some really good SR artwork).
Moonstone Spider
Yeah, I like the mental adept concept. It would work wonders.

One obvious way to make a Psionicist more powerful without altering the canon is simply to change the Psionicist point cost. He's not as strong as a magician, make a psionicist only cost 20 BPs or perhaps only 15 if you really want them to work. After all even the SR Companion says to adjust the prices of things to make them fit the game you want, and to alter the magic prices as needed to balance the game you're creating and encourage or discourage awakened players.
Where are the canon rules for Psions? I'm not familiar with them?
Moonstone Spider
Basically a Full Mage who:

Can only summon Watcher Spirits and Thought Forms. Thought Forms are extremely pimped spirits with only 3 powers and their attributes are sub-par. They last 24 hours and a psionicist can only summon one at a time.

Cannot bond any Foci.

Cannot Join a Magical Group which contains anything but other Psionicists.

Cannot Learn Magic from a non-Psionicist.

Cannot engage in Ritual Sorcery with a non-Psionicist. (Did we mention they are extremely rare so you will probably never find another psionicist to ritual, learn, or join a group with?)

Cannot learn any healing spell but treat, nor learn most non-mental manipulation spells.

Cannot use the Majority of the Geasa.

Does not believe in magic in the first place and is therefore probably an idiot.
Entropy Kid
rules are on pg. 26 and 27 of Magic in the Shadows, and technically they can't cast any health spells other than Heal (although I expect most people read that as Treat AND Heal). "Most indirect illusions" aren't allowed either, but there's no list, so it's GM discretion.
Psionicists are more playable if you take the view that they don't believe that what THEY could do was magic, not that they didn't believe in the existence of magic. So they just think they personally have psionic powers, but aren't totally out of touch with reality. They are under powered, and if I am GMing I would throw them some bonuses (maybe the reduce the cost in Build Points by a few if we are using that for chargen, or give bonuses like uncreased resistence to mental spells etc.). With a little tweaking, they can be a viable archetype.
Psionics as presented in the rules are people who, despite all evidence to the contrary, believe their abilities come from psychic powers rather than magic. This belief limits their magic to things that can be explained as psychic phenomena. The logical fallacy is that seeing other characters doing things like summoning elementals or using foci should either 1) convince them that magic is actually real, or 2) convince them that they should be able to do that stuff, too.

If you want a "psionic" character who isn't a deluded gimp, make him either a hermetic mage or an idol shaman, and have him concentrate on the "mental" aspect of magic - take psychology and behavioral study as knowledge skills, and take things like telekinetic and control manipulations to give you a psionic theme. He believes in magic and can use it just fine, but focuses on the mental aspects of the process rather than the rules of how it works (hermetic) or the philosophy of it (shamanic).

Another idea, but one that would require extensive house ruling and the collaboration of your GM, is:

What if psionics are not deluded, and really do have psychic powers that let them do things that are similar (but perhaps different in some ways) to what magical characters can do? Maybe they can't use dispelling but are immune to mana warps, for example.
A Clockwork Lime
The problem is, as written, just about any magical phenomenon can be explained as psionic phenomenon. In fact, that's the entire point of psionics to begin with -- a "scientific" means of categorizing and explaining magic.

The way they have them written is just horrific. They'd be better classified as "aspected magicians who watched too much bad sci-fi as kids."
Eyeless Blond
IMO the best way to classify them is: "A school of magic which God didn't like, and decided to arbitrarily punish and make into the weak, red-headed stepchildren of the people who act and believe one of the many 'correct' philosophies, despite how much they contradict one another." nyahnyah.gif
I think the easiest 'fix' is to simply make Psionicists a type of of Aspected mage. After all, what is a Psionicist but a magician limited in the way his magic works?

This approach works for me, and while some of them may believe that magic doesn't exist, most of them would simply just believe that they aren't magicians themselves. The reasons for this may be many - delusion, hatred or fear of magic, desperately trying to rationalize their abilities in a scientific way...

While they get slightly more abilities than a normal Aspected mage, their other drawbacks (no foci, no groups, no ritual magic) make up for it imo.

And if you want you can make an even more limited Psionic character (or other magic character for that matter) with Magic cost 20 (or Priority C)
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