I would rather not have psionics in 5e at all, then have it as a subtype of magic

One thought on “I would rather not have psionics in 5e at all, then have it as a subtype of magic

  1. D. Walker says:

    I myself do miss the legacy aspect of Psionics being distinct from magic, and I think it’s more than just nostalgic grognards refusing to accept change.

    Psionics in previous editions wasn’t a -magical- phenomenon, it was a -supernatural- one, and the rules reflected that plainly.

    Things that affected magic didn’t affect psionics. For example, an anti-magic sphere could suppress the magical powers of a wizard or even a magical item, but not the powers of a psion. But the reverse was just as true – something that inhibited psionic powers would not also impede magical powers.

    This is because magic and psionics are inherently different things. Lumping them together for mechanical simplicity is like lumping together swords and spears because they’re both long pointy metal things, despite the very real and important distinctions between the two.

    Magic is an external resource that even the most naturally gifted individuals still draw upon from a source that is something other than themselves. Even a sorcerer who was born infused with magic isn’t using their own power – that magic existed before they did, and it will continue to exist once they cease to exist. They’re still relying on an external source of power, even if that source of power does literally reside inside them for the moment.

    In contrast, psionics is the most fundamentally internal power there is. It is the power of the mind; the force of one’s will; the strength of one’s ego. Psionic power doesn’t exist outside of the individual – it essentially IS the individual. Kill a mage and their magic remains, but psionic powers die with the mind they come from.

    Psionics shouldn’t mechanically work exactly like magic, because psionics is fundamentally distinct and different from magic. Consequently, the mechanics of psionics need to be distinct and different from the mechanics of magic.

    It’s the same reason that we give different mechanics to casting a spell and swinging a sword. If we took away the Attack action from Fighters and instead gave them a list of “Spells” that accomplish the same thing using the spellcasting mechanics, it wouldn’t FEEL right, even if the end result is ostensibly the same.

    And this is something WotC should already know! People complained about it very vocally with 4E! It felt wrong to play a Fighter and essentially cast a “spell” that allows you to punch a dude really hard in the face!

    It was perhaps mechanically elegant, but it didn’t play into the psychology of the player! It went against the expectation of warriors being distinct and different from spellcasters! By sharing the same mechanics as spellcasting, it unintentionally made warriors feel like just another kind of mage. “Muscle Wizards”, if you will.

    In constrast, having a different mechanic for whacking someone with a mace and hurling a magic missile at them reinforces the distinction between the classes, and makes player choices feel more personal and unique. A wizard who wants to punch someone in the face has to make a Melee Attack, not cast a spell! And they’re almost certainly going to be bad at it, because it’s not the thing they’re SUPPOSED to be good at and the mechanics don’t favor it!

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