Tuesday, March 17, 2009

S&W Psionics, Part I

James just posted the first draft of the first part of his S&W Psionics rules. There isn't a lot to go on yet, but my reaction is positive. And am I relieved because this whole project would not have gone anywhere if I didn't cotton to the rules. I like the way it preserves the pretty random nature of Psi, although using different and more D&D-like dice methods

(Small digression: percentile rolls are great. Really. They make it very clear what the odds are of things. But they just aren't D&D to me. Those rare occasions when D&D calls for apercentile roll always seems wrong to me. So having the Psi rolls put back to d20 and 2d6 works just fine for me.)

I'm quite glad to see Class Level plugged into the equation. D&D is class-based game and removing class from consideration is always, always a mistake. Witness the Non-Weapon Proficiencies of AD&D or the...uh...whatever they were called for BECMI. Realistic? Probably not? The best way to run a role-playing game? Certainly not. But it is what makes D&D, D&D and not Runequest.

That said, I'm already beginning to wonder if I have problem in Hypernotus in regards to Psionics vs. Non-Psionics. Now, of course, there is always going to be disparity between PC's based on lucky rolls. Again, it's part of what makes the game, the game. But this may be a disparity of a whole 'nother level when Psi is such an important part of the setting. It's a bit like saying, "OK, roll to see if your Fighter can also cast Magic-User spells while wearing armour." That's a bit of a rip for both the MU and the other Fighters. Elves, at least, have to pay a serious XP penalty for the benefit (and stringent level limitations if you use those).

So, what to do? Well, I'm not panicking right now. I think that the solution may lie in emphasizing the burdens of Psionics. Psionic characters are open to a form of attack that others aren't exposed to. I see myself maybe tweaking the rules to play that up. For example, perhaps having Psionics makes you glow like a Christmas Tree to other Psionics. There goes sneaking up on that Mind Fla...er...whatever non-copyrighted name one comes up with.

Maybe non-Psionics are totally immune to Attack Modes. I kind of like that. If you see the use of the Modes as a Duel Arcane, then it makes sense that non-Psi can neither engage nor be engaged in that. That doesn't mean that they are immune to Psi; the disciplines would still be perfectly effective.

Anyway, something to ponder as we wait for the next installment of the rules.

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