Psionic Power Review

Growing up my family was fairly poor so for the longest time I had to make due running D&D games with only a Player's Handbook, some pages from that one Monster Manual thing that was in a three-ring binder, and bumming books from friends. Thankfully there weren't magic item parcels (or even estimated wealth levels) because I had sporadic access at best to a Dungeon Master's Guide, which for all you kids out there is where magic items were kept at the time (and no, you couldn't easily build your own stuff until 3rd Edition).

Where this is gradually segueing is that I distinctly recall on Christmas where my uncle gave me a box of allegedly blank paper and another box that also allegedly contained a shitty wooden sleigh model--to which I had to pretend to give two shits about until I would invariably go home and play my second-hand Sega games that I sort of cared about--but in all actuality were 500 character sheets and Complete Psionicist's Handbook incognito. Suffice to say that that is the only Christmas I care to recall because the rest consisted of family members who hated each other getting together and pretending to like each other until the booze kicked in.

And that lengthy tangent is connected to the fact that while I wasn't playing the game when psionics were originally added to the game, I can lay claim that I was the only person in my group that bothered to try understanding and using psionics in a game (much to the DM's chagrin) up until 4th Edition. Back in the day (circa 2nd Edition), psionics got power points that they had to burn in order to energize their psionic abilities. When you tried to do this, you had to make a roll that was based on one of your ability scores somehow. If you rolled higher (or lower, I can't remember) that a certain number it worked (or failed), but if you rolled the modified number exactly, then it did something better, kinda like getting a psionic critical.

A lot of DM's didn't like it because they felt it was too powerful, and in hindsight I don't know if that's true since I haven't use it in well over 10 years, but I'm glad to see that psionics nowadays are both balanced and accessible to the point where DM's won't balk at me wanting to give it a shot (and other players are also chomping at the bits to try out a psionic class).

And with that, onto the actual review. Psionic Power appears to be the last Etcetera Power book being released for 4th Edition before Wizards moves on to a different naming scheme (ie, Heroes of Shadow). You know the drill: you get more content for all the psionic classes, as well as some story-centric information on the classes in-depth, as well as psionics in the world and how the classes relate to it. There's a lot of extra shit in this book, so I'll start out with the new class features as an opener.

  • Ardents can now pick up Mantle of Impulsiveness, which gives them a damage bonus when they are hit by opportunity attacks, a passive bonus to Endurance and Intimidate, and ardent eruption, an encounter power that grants all allies a damage bonus when you are bloodied.
  • Battleminds can choose Persistent Harrier as their Psionic Study, which causes them to teleport adjacent to a target and make an attack after an enemy hits or misses them, no matter how far away they are. An asshole DM could have something shoot at them from 20 squares away, effectively isolating them from the party. Randy's been getting a lot of mileage from Persistent Harrier in my Tendrils of Fate campaign, but I gotta say I prefer Battle Resilience because I like being essentially rendered immune to damage (even if its just for a round).
  • Monks can practice the Iron Soul tradition, allowing them use iron flurry of blows which lets them deal automatic damage based on your Con modifier and preventing them from shifting after you hit someone else. Oh, and if they weren't the original target it also stops them from making opportunity attacks. Finally, you get Mental Arsenal, which gives you a shield bonus to AC when you are wielding a weapon (ie, not unarmed).
  • Psions can now make astral stuffs by picking up Shaper Focus. You get two encounter disciplines, shaped consciousness and minor creation. Shaped consciousness lets you conjure up a fragment of your conscious that lets you sense things through it. Minor creation lets you make a simple item from the equipment list that lasts for the encounter. Out of all the new class crunch I'm most excited for the psion's shaping abilities, since I'm a sucker for summoning shit and I do so enjoyed astral constructs from 3rd Edition.

Aside from new class features, you get paragon paths, lots of feats for each class across all the tiers, epic destinies, and magic items. I particularly like the alienist paragon path, partially because of its randomized action point kicker, but mostly because everything you summon from 16th-level and up is corrupted by the Far Realm, rendering it a nightmarish amalgamation of tentacles, eyes, and mouths. Oh yeah, the level 20 daily discipline, summon far realm abomination, is a very "controllery" beast that is capable of grabbing and throttling two critters at the same time. Just don't forget to tell it what to do each round or it will unleash a psychic scream that deals a bit of psychic damage and dazes everything it hits.

I also like Chapter 5: Psionic Options, which is 17-pages of fluffy content that describes the psionic power source such as it is in Athas, Eberron, and Forgotten Realms, philosophies and orders, backgrounds (including a specific one for each race), and psionic origins. One of the biggest crunchy highlights, for me, are the two feat trees for Psionic Bloodlines: one brings back elans (originally debuting in 3rd Edition) as a benign psychic race, in addition to introducing the foulborn bloodline for those that want to go with a darker bent. I gotta say elan resilience is nice and all for the damage reduction, but I prefer unbalanced mind for the automatic psychic damage. All told there's 21 feats between the two trees and three tiers, as well as a paragon path for each.

If you like psionics, pick it up. There's a lot of new stuff.


  1. i guess they beat us to the elan as a bloodline XD

  2. Yeah...they called it elan resilience, but did it as Int-based DR.


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