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Re: D&D classic Psionics in TFT: Why Psionics?

Sorry -- somebody said something like that, and I thought it was you.

From: David Bofinger <bofinger.david@gmail.com>
To: tft@brainiac.com
Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 4:51 PM
Subject: Re: D&D classic Psionics in TFT: Why Psionics?

> You could make psionics a subset of TFT spells.  So same rules, as
> magic but these spells are magic, and those are psionics, as David
> suggests.
I didn't suggest this.
Psionics isn't as common in stories as it was when D&D 1e came out but I guess not completely extinct. When you say "magic" you mean a power that isn't common, in cause or effects? SF doesn't have as much of that as it once did though computer hacking did it for a while. Nanotech was never that personal.

On 19 Oct 2016 5:47 AM, "Rick Smith" <rick_ww@lightspeed.ca> wrote:
Hi David, Everyone.
  I confess, that the word "classic" in the original subject line gave me
pause.  I didn't consider the psionics from early D&D to be classic at

  The questions you ask David, I have grappled with a bit while I have
wondered about putting psionics into TFT.

  Why add psionics to TFT?

1) If you are doing a high tech version of TFT, (zombies, traveller, etc.)
you may want "high tech magic".  Psionics is basically magic, for SF.

2)  I think both are very similar.  Both are examples of magical thinking.
I define magical thinking as people who expect reality to be what they 
want, rather than what it is.  Much of literature is wish fulfilment & power
fantasies.  Wouldn't it be cool if I could cast a lightning spell?  Wouldn't
it be cool if I could bend spoons with my mind?  I think that they are 
simular since they spring from the same desires from storytellers & 
magical thinkers.

3)  Many stories have psionics.  That is reason enough to include them,
if you want to do similar stories or settings.

4)  The drama of mind to mind combat.  (e.g. the ending scene from 

5)  If psionics is rare (it normally is considered to be), then defenses
against it are likewise rare or unknown.  This gives low level PC's poorly 
defended ways to attack the man.  It also allows power over those who
lack defenses. "These are not the droids you are looking for.  Move on."

______________________________ ________________________

  You could make psionics a subset of TFT spells.  So same rules, as
magic but these spells are magic, and those are psionics, as David 
suggests.  However, I've never seriously considered this.

    Why not make psionics a subset of TFT spells?

1)  I feel that two different things, (magic and psionics) should have 
differing rules to reflect the differences between them.  Now magic 
varies from fictional universe to fictional universe (ficton).  And 
psionics varies from ficton to ficton.  So it is hard to be dogmatic about
what is & is not in each set.  (They are both fuzzy sets in mathematical
terms.)  But I do feel that they have differences.

2)  TFT magic rules are 'industrial magic', with predictable effects and
magic items.  Psionics (at least at TFT tech level) does not have 
psionic magic items.  In psionic combat, it is raw skill, not who has the
biggest bank account, who will win.

3)  If you have two different systems, they require more rules (which is 
bad).  But they give more interest and texture to the campaign (which is
good).  The trick is to make sure that coolness is more than the cost.

4)  In TFT, you need all three attributes.  But psionic characters want 
just IQ and (maybe) psionic power.  They can use ST and DX as dump
stats, except that they have to live in the real world.  This suggests that
psionic users will play differently from most TFT characters, which is a
good thing.

______________________________ ________________________

       Odd thoughts on the subject:

  I think that the reasons for including psionics is stronger than the 
reasons for making them not a subset of magic.

  I expect that there will be overlap.  A seer makes a prediction of the
future.  Did she use...

-- A divination spell?  -- OR --
-- The Clairvoyance psionic discipline?  -- OR --
-- A vision granted by a god?

  Magical thinking wants to know what is coming.  Gods and spells 
were the traditional way of getting around physics.  Psionics is the
early 20th century version of wistful thinking.  (Back when people 
really hoped there was something to it.)

  The early D&D psionics had a combat module for psionic combat 
and a bunch of cool powers (which played like spells).  In fact, several
of these powers said, "See this spell for how it works".  If they stuck to
the spell like effects, I do not think that the D&D psionic rules would 
have generated so much heat.  (Most people hate them or love them
with the majority hating them.  That said, the majority of DM's I played
with never used them.)

  If you wanted to make a psionics system which was simply a sub-set
of the spell list, I wouldn't criticize.  You will be using a solid system,
and the work is done.

  But I think that psionics has its own 'style' that is different than magic,
and I would like to have rules that would support that.

  Warm regards, Rick.

On 2016-10-18, at 8:04 AM, David Bofinger wrote:

While I can see all this is possible, I'm a little at a loss as to why anyone would want to do it. Can you explain your motives?

Is there, for instance, something about D&D 1e psionics that you consider particularly well-written and fun to use? Or is there some other reason you want to give TFT players access to it?

IIUC you build up psionic power as unspent experience, and then one day give up being a psychic when you spend the experience on attributes or whatever. That strikes me as downright weird. It doesn't feel like something from a real world where the rules happen to be a little different, or something I'd like if it happened in a fantasy novel. Instead it feels arbitrary and gamey.

There are spells in TFT that do psionic-like things. Telepathy, for example (though I ban that from my games), Control Person, maybe Images and Illusions (don't know much about D&D psionics). Would you want them to be still running in parallel with this system, or would psionics replace them? I guess it might depend on the campaign.