Psionics Rules

This ruleset is a simplified version of the one that appears in the Complete Psionicist's Handbook, streamlined in a few ways. Specifically, it's designed to make psionic combat a lot less cumbersome. The description of some powers have also been changed to make them more open-ended and less strictly limited. For example, Animate Object does not always fight as a club even if the object animated is a massive stone statue.

Psionic abilities only appear naturally in Mind Flayers and Aboleths, who came from somewhere else. Humans and other sentient races have the potential for psionic abilites, but it has to be awakened through dedication and training. Before the Cult of Nirrin, no one had ever learned how to unlock their mind's potential. The closest anyone had ever gotten is the monks of Kyujitai - some of them have control over their mind and body that borders on magical at times.

A psionicist has the same HD, saving throws and THAC0 as a Thief. The only requirements for a psionicst is an Intelligence of 12 and a Wisdom of 15. Psionicists can use the same range of weapons as a wizard, and get a +2 bonus on all saving throws against enchantment or charm spells.

Here is an example of a psion character sheet.

Level Experience Threshold Hit Dice
1 0 1
2 2 200 2
3 4 400 3
4 8 800 4
5 16 500 5
6 30 000 6
7 55 000 7
8 100 000 8
9 200 000 9
10 400 000 9+2
11 600 000 9+4
12 800 000 9+6
13 1 000 000 9+8
14 1 200 000 9+10
15 1 500 000 9+12
16 1 800 000 9+14
17 2 100 000 9+16
18 2 400 000 9+18
19 2 700 000 9+20
20 3 000 000 9+22

Level Disciplines Sciences Devotions Defense Modes
1 1 1 3 1
2 2 1 5 1
3 2 2 7 2
4 2 2 9 2
5 2 3 10 3
6 3 3 11 3
7 3 4 12 4
8 3 4 13 4
9 3 5 14 5
10 4 5 15 5
11 4 6 16 5
12 4 6 17 5
13 4 7 18 5
14 5 7 19 5
15 5 8 20 5
16 5 8 21 5
17 5 9 22 5
18 6 9 23 5
19 6 10 24 5
20 6 10 25 5

Psionic Powers

The table in the section above details the rate at which a Psion gains news Disciplines, Sciences, Devotions and Defense Modes.

A Discipline is a category of psionic ability, which is divided up into Sciences and Devotions. It is similar to a school of magic; getting a new Discipline opens up new sciences and devotions to buy. See the links at the bottom of this page for each Discipline and the Sciences and Devotions they contain.

A Science is a major psionic power, and has significant potency. A Devotion is a minor psionic power. A Defense Mode is a special type of psionic ability that can be either a Science or a Devotion. Defense modes are "free" - you attain them seperately from normal sciences and devotions, and you can use a science/devotion AND activate/maintain a defense mode in the same round.

Psionic Strength Points

PSPs are a pool of points that a Psion draws on to use their psionic powers. Your wisdom determines how many you start with, and how many you get each level. A wisdom of 15 starts with 20 PSPs, and every point of wisdom above that starts with 2 more. Furthermore, every point of Intelligence or Constitution you have above 15 increases the total by 1.

When you attain a level, you gain more PSPs. The number you gain is equal to 10 + 1 per point of WIS over 15.

When expended, PSPs regenerate over the course of hours. For each 5 minutes of quiet meditation spent, 1 PSP is restored. Otherwise, they restore at a rate of 1 every 20 minutes. The DM may wish to abstract this, so that PSPs are fully restored by resting - like a wizard's spells.

Activating Psionic Powers

Each psionic ability that you obtain is basically like an NWP. Every ability has a power score, i.e. "INT-3", and activating an ability requires a "power check" - the same as a proficiency check. If you succeed, you must pay the initial cost in PSPs; if you fail, you pay only half the cost. A roll of a natural 1 is a "power score" roll, equivalent to a critical hit. A roll of a natural 20 is equivalent to a critical miss. The effects of critical success and failure are listed under the description of each power.

Just like an NWP, you can improve the power scores of your abilities. This is done by spending devotions - if you level up and get a new devotion, you can choose to improve the power score of one of your abilities, i.e. from "INT-3" to "INT-2". This makes it easier to activate in future; it's up to you whether you want to have a wide variety of abilities or specialise heavily in a handful of them.

Some powers can be maintained from round to round, and you can maintain as many as you want at once, so long as you can pay the maintenance cost. You do not usually have to make another power check just to maintain an already-activated power. However, only one new power can be activated per round, with the exception of defense modes.

Note that this fact means that telepathic attacks take longer than other types of psionic ability. In order to dominate someone, for example, you must first establish contact - either mundanely or by utilising an attack mode. You can then to progress it into a mindlink in the second round. Then, on the third round, you can attempt to dominate them. Although this makes it more difficult, this is a feature - not a bug. Contact can be used on anyone you can see, or on anyone you know (even if you can't see them). Domination lasts for as long as you pay the maintenance cost. It should be harder than casting Dominate Person. If you are in the heat of combat and cannot spare 3 rounds to dominate an opponent, consider using a simpler method such as a psionic attack mode.


Psionic powers that affect the psionicist himself, or those that have physical effects, are fairly straightforward in the way they work. However, telepathic abilities work slightly differently, as they depend both on the psionicist and the target.

Contact is the most important telepathic ability that there is; most telepathic abilities require you to establish contact before you can use them. Against a normal human, Contact usually works - if they are actively resisting instead of fighting or spellcasting, you get a -2 to your roll to use the devotion, but you can still force contact.

When dealing with another pscionicist, you cannot forcibly establish contact using the Contact devotion - in fact, they have to actually drop their defenses for Contact to even work on them. In order to establish contact with a hostile pscionicist so that you can use telepathic abilites on them you have to force your way in with an attack mode, which is pitted against whatever defense mode they have active. This is known as psionic combat.

Attack Modes

An attack mode is a special type of Telepathic ability (they can be either sciences or devotions) that is designed to force Contact with an unwilling psionicist so that you can use your telepathic abilities on them. Attack modes include:

Psychic Crush
Ego Whip
ID Insinuation
Mind Thrust
Psionic Blast

If the hostile psionicist has a defense mode active, then you must engage in psionic combat to break through the defense mode and establish contact. If they do not have a defense mode active, then you simply need to succeed the check to use the attack mode in order to forcibly establish contact.

Attack modes have other effects - for example, Ego Whip makes your target feel so worthless that they take a penalty to their dice rolls. However, you need to establish contact for these effects to take place. Against a closed mind, an attack mode only serves to erode his resistance.

Defense Mode

As noted under the section on psionic powers, a defense mode is a special type of Telepathic ability (they can be either sciences or devotions) that is designed to protect the user from attack modes that would otherwise force Contact. This is important, as if a hostile psionicist forces contact on you, they can use whatever telepathic abilities they want on you. Defense modes include:

Mind Blank
Thought Shield
Mental Barrier
Tower of Iron Will
Intellect Fortress

Resolving Psionic Combat

As noted above, psionic combat occurs when a psionicist needs to establish Contact with an enemy psionicist in order to use their Telepathic abilities on them. As the Contact devotion does not work on hostile psionicists, you must use an attack mode to break down their defences and forcibly establish contact with them. If they have no defense mode active, then successfully using the attack mode is enough to forcibly establish contact. Otherwise, you must go head-to-head with them.

Resolving psionic combat is simple. The attacker makes a power check with their attack mode, and the defender makes a power check with their defense mode. If the attacker fails, their attack automatically fails. If the defender fails, the attacker succeeds as long as they don't fail. If both succeed, compare the adjusted result; whoever passed by more wins. If the rolls are tied, the defender wins by default.

If the attacker wins psionic combat, they successfully establish contact with their victim. On subsequent rounds, they can proceed to use other telepathic abilities that require contact to be established. Once contact is established, the only way to sever it is to incapacitate the attacker, or to forcibly eject him using the Ejection telepathic Science. Contact can also be severed by moving somewhere it cannot be maintained - to another crystal sphere or plane, to a place magically warded against telepathic communication, and so on. Rendering yourself unconscious will also work.

Telepathic Attack Modes
Telepathic Defense Modes
Telepathic Devotions
Telepathic Sciences
Clairsentient Devotions
Clairsentient Sciences
Psychokinetic Devotions
Psychokinetic Sciences
Psychoportive Devotions
Psychoportive Sciences
Psychometabolic Devotions
Psychometabolic Sciences
Metapsionic Devotions
Metapsionic Sciences