The 20-level classes presented in books other than the Player's Handbook have become popular choices for players and DMs. Previous articles in this series discussed how to import classes from Player's Handbook 2, the Complete series, the Miniatures Handbook, and other sources into the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. This installment focuses on psionics and psionic classes in the Realms. This article provides the geographic backdrop in which to place psionic PCs and NPCs.
The history of psionics in the Realms is less complicated than it might appear. Previous editions of Forgotten Realms have held different philosophies on the inclusion of psionics, ranging from complete inclusion -- even granting wild talents to numerous NPCs -- to the complete removal of psionics from the Realms. Third Edition and 3.5 adopt a more moderate approach, acknowledging and developing a small number of psionic organizations, races, and NPCs, but without making psionics a dominant aspect of the setting.
Even at its most pervasive, psionics (referred to in the Realms as the Invisible Art or mind magic) has always been a minor aspect of the Realms, limited to a handful of monster races and aberration types (such as mind flayers, yuan-ti, aboleths, and duergar), a small number of humans and drow, and a few odd religions. Psionics is a mysterious power that is barely understood and often completely unrecognized among the general populace. Despite this relative scarcity, small amounts of psionics are sprinkled throughout the Realms.
Psionics Across the Land
Psionics crops up in small amounts throughout Faerûn. In some areas, such as the Serpent Kingdoms and the Underdark, psionic energy and the interbreeding of psionic races increases the frequency of psionic talent considerably. In others, psionic characters rally around a pivotal figure or gain acceptance through tolerance or the need for their skills. In addition to those described below, several psionic organizations are mentioned on pages 172-174 of the Player's Guide to Faerûn. The following are a sample of hooks that can be used in a campaign with a psionic focus.
Castle Crag, Cormyr's defensive outpost against the Stonelands, has begun to include psions on its staff. In the beginning, Bren Tallsword commissioned the mind mages for the purpose of sending messages to Arabel. Castle Crag needs to be able to call on Arabel's aid quickly and efficiently in the event that the outpost is attacked by overwhelming numbers. When a particularly nasty gnoll raid was predicted by the clairvoyant powers of one of the mind mages, a young soldier by the name of Ormion Bowbreaker (LG male Chondathan Psion [seer] 8), the question of including psions in the army was finally put to rest. When word spread of the interception, the War Wizards sent several of their members to speak with (interrogate) the mind mages. The War Wizards declared the mind mages to be trustworthy, but many War Wizards are still suspicious. Nevertheless, a call for the recruitment of further mind mages has been sent out, and the War Wizards are now combing the lands for wild talents.
The greatest collectors of psionic lore in the Realms Above are members of the Kaliesh-Erai, an elven association of psionic characters in Evereska (as detailed in the Player's Guide to Faerun, page 172). Currently, the organization is experiencing a schism. Its older, more conservative members, led by the venerable Theldir Whitemoon, seek seclusion, desiring to distance themselves from the outside world, especially the non-elven world. The younger contingent, led by Dalthoeneir Delthoenoth, wishes to correspond with non-elf mind mages, possibly even admitting such individuals into their ranks. This conflict recently erupted when one of the members, a young moon elf by the name of Reliath Crescentia, stole a number of powerful objects from the collection of the organization. This sparked a massive series of debates about the future of the organization that have yet to be resolved.
- The Kaliesh-Erai (Standard Psionic) AL Any non-evil; 40,000 gp resource limit; Membership 55; Elves (25 moon elves, 15 sun elves, 5 wood elves, 2 wild elves, 1 avariel, 1 celadrin, 6 half-eves); Dues 10% tithe.
- Authority Figures: Theldir Whitemoon, leader of the conservative contingent (LN male sun elf psion 18 (shaper); Dalthoeneir Delthoenoth, leader of the expansionist contingent (CG male moon elf wilder 11)
- Important Characters: Reliath Crescentia (CN female wood elf lurk 9)
- Associated Classes: Psionic classes (mainly psion and wilder)
- Associated Skills: Autohypnosis, Knowledge (psionics), Psicraft
- Requirements: At least 5 or more ranks in 2 of the following skills -- Autohypnosis, Knowledge (psionics), Psicraft
- Favored in Guild Benefits: 15% discount on psionic services
- Special: Will only accept elves and half-elves with demonstrable psionic ability.
Halruaa is known for its numerous wizards but even more for the fact that many common folk have basic magical training. Surprisingly, Halruaa also seems to have a greater than average number of psionic characters. The best known mind mages in Halruaa are members of the Destroyers, a mercenary company based in Halabar. Led by Daltim Flamefist (LN Halruaan domain wizard [fire] 3/psion [shaper] 3/cerebromancer 10), a powerful Halruaan noble and scholar of pyromancy and psionics, the Destroyers number about 50, including 20 warriors, 15 wizards and sorcerers, and 15 psionic characters.
Daltim is well known for his endeavors leading the Destroyers but also for his research. He penned the book Daltim's Tome of Fire, a treatise on both fire magic and psionic powers and items. He lost the book while involved in the Tethyrian Civil War and hasn't been able to find it. Daltim offers a reward of 10,000 gp to anyone who brings back the tome and 1,000 gp for credible information leading to its return.
Sembia is a land full of mercenaries. As long as these mercenaries are effective, most Sembian merchants and nobles don't care about the source of supernatural powers of their employees. As such, a small, but greater than average number of psionic characters -- mostly mercenaries -- have congregated in the land. The largest organization of this type, and the only one to exclusively recruit psionic characters, is the Stray Thoughts (described in detail on page 173 of the Player's Guide to Faerûn). Led by Jacenelle Traen (CG female Chondathan wilder 16), the group is well known for its discretion and professionalism. Recently, the Stray Thoughts were hired to search for a psionic artifact of unknown abilities by an elusive, cowled figure known as Z'dusk. Unbeknownst to the mercenary company, the artifact they are searching for -- which is buried somewhere in the sandy caves of coastal Sembia -- is some sort of loosed fragment of an avatar of the god Ilsensine, god of the illithids. Z'dusk (NE male illithid psychic warrior 6/elocater 10) is a scout for the Council of Oryndoll. The council hopes that recovering the fragment will quell the anger of Ilsensine, but they are taking no chances. They plan to hire several other bands of mercenaries and adventurers in an effort to find the artifact. They have no intention of paying the 25,000 gp reward for the item's return, hoping instead to seize it from the mercenaries and kill them.
Psionics Among the Drow
For much of its history, Menzobarranzan included a powerful family of psionic drow among its elite -- House Oblodra. When the drow clerics lost their connection to the Spider Queen, House Oblodra made its move toward dominance, using its psionic power in an attempt to overwhelm the priestesses. The attempt nearly succeeded, but in the end, the house was destroyed and most of its members slaughtered. A few members of the family survived, mostly by being out of the city at the time. The most well known is Kimmuriel Oblodra, leader of the mercenary band Bregan D'aerthe, but there are at least a few other survivors, none of whom are aware of each other. These drow are carving new niches for themselves in both the Realms Above and in the Underdark.
Psionics also plays a pivotal role in the workings of Llurth Dreier, the most populous drow city in the Realms. While drow represent the majority of the population, true power lies in the 'hands' of aboleths with levels in psion and cleric [Ghaunadar]. A number of the aboleth ruling this city are extremely powerful, enabling them to maintain tight rein on such a large populace. Unbeknownst to the aboleths, their constant psionic manipulation of the populace has begun to awaken latent psychic talents in their thralls. It's likely that this will lead to some sort of revolt, but the resistance movement has not yet developed sufficiently to enable this to happen.
An unusual event occurs every four years in the Shaar during the month of Eleasis. Each year, hundreds of people gather from all over the South (and beyond) to a massive dance in the central plains known as the Dance of the Shimmering Blades Attendants claim that the land calls to them, sending forth welcoming pulses of energy as an invitation to return to their roots. Prior to this time, Shaarmid swells with travelers making their way to this gathering. Almost all of the attendants have some form of psionic ability, though many have only the faintest wild talent, such as enhanced vision or a minor psi-like ability. Most of the attendees are wilders who feel the call most passionately, but others are drawn, never even knowing that they possess psychic gifts. All dance, eat, drink, and revel deep into the night for seven days, making lifelong friends and contemplating their own life's journeys. Members of numerous races, many of whom would not normally get along, are brought together by an unspoken bond. No one speaks of why they are there, but all feel a common connection.
In a network of narrow caves running through the Hills of Sythrilia in this remote grassy region bordering Chult lives the Sythrilian Sybil, a psychic seer of incredible power. Sythrilia was an ancient heroine of Thindolean history, famous for her liberation of the people from the grip of yuan-ti domination. The Sybil (CN female Chultan human psion [seer] 11/psion uncarnate 10) is an expert in all things psychic as well as a powerful and wise prophetess. Visitors travel from all over Faerun to seek the Sybil's guidance, sometimes to be turned away without ever seeing the reclusive seer. They keep coming back, however, knowing that she is one of the most knowledgeable scholars of psionic lore in the Realms.
About the Author
Eytan Bernstein hails from exotic Long Island and spends his days writing and editing projects for numerous game companies. In addition to his work on Dragons of Faerûn, the Magic Item Compendium, and numerous other projects, Eytan serves as a partner and PR & Marketing Manager for Silven Publishing. Eytan enjoys hunting for gems and minerals in rock quarries, studying religion and theology, composing music, and playing with his many pets. For more information about Eytan, check out www.eytanbernstein.com. Send questions and comments for Eytan here.