The Mind's Eye04/17/2004

Out with the Old, in with the New

So the Expanded Psionics Handbook has hit the shelves and you're wondering just how much work you need to do to convert your existing character to the new rules. Well, even though the new rules bring considerable changes with them, I think you will find it isn't all that difficult to update your characters.

This article gives you a brief look at what to keep in mind when you convert your character and provides a preview of what you can look forward to as you explore the Expanded Psionics Handbook.

Getting Started

The first thing you should do is list a few things that you believe make your character what it is. For instance, your character's past may be extremely important in how the character has developed. With your list, you can make better decisions as to what skills, feats, powers, and so on, that you should choose for your character.

The choices you made when your character advanced also play a part in what it has become. You might also want to make a list of five to ten feats or powers that you think best describe your character's style. For instance, I have a psion who focuses on astral constructs, so I have them on my list. You will most likely get to keep the majority of feats and powers.

My best suggestion is to toss any preconceptions out the window (aside from what you've listed above) and start with a clean slate. Approximate your character's original starting attributes. Experience points can be transferred over to the new character. This should put you well on your way to converting your character in a way that fits your character's former concept!

A Few Thoughts on Psions and Psychic Warriors

Psion: If you have a psion, you can see that a few things have changed. You have more powers known and more power points than before. You also must select a discipline to specialize in. This could cause some powers that you relied upon to no longer be available. However you now gain five bonus feats as you advance, which should give you some leeway in maintaining the feel of your character. For instance, you could choose the Psicrystal Affinity feat and your trusty psicrystal would be right back at your side where it belongs. Or choose the Expanded Knowledge feat, and the power you so loved before that just became unavailable because of your choice of discipline is again available to you. If you can't seem to decide on a course of action, you may want to look at the Wilder as an alternative character class.

Psychic Warrior: Although less has changed with the psychic warrior than with the psion, you need to go over your powers and feats carefully. If you had levels of the soulknife prestige class, you have a decision ahead of you: become a psychic warrior or rebuild your character from the ground up as a member of the all-new soulknife class. As a soulknife, you lose the ability to manifest psionic powers, but the abilities you gain through advancement can more than make up for this.

What to Keep in Mind

Not everything in the 3.0 psionic system made it into the new book. Psionic combat was removed entirely. Several feats and powers have been removed or redesigned to help balance them with the new system. For instance, psychic vampire no longer grants you any benefits; it merely drains your opponent of power points. Also, the incarnate power now includes a list of all viable powers that you can make permanent.

When dealing with psionic items, you can usually replace an item with the new version of the item of the same name. However some of the special abilities of psionic arms and armor may have changed slightly and need to be checked. For instance, mindfeeder weapons no longer grant temporary power points when striking constructs or undead.

Prestige Classes

If you have levels of metamind, pyrokineticist, and slayer, you shouldn't have any problems with converting your character. The slayer does get a spiffy new name: the illithid slayer. As mentioned earlier, the soulknife is now a class, so look it over carefully and decide if you wish to go with this class or apply a different prestige class to a psychic warrior.

You can also take a look at the new prestige classes in the book. The cerebremancer gains access to both the arcane mysteries of spellcasting and the psionic powers of the mind. The elocater is renowned for agile combat stratagems. The fist of Zuoken is a member of an order of martial artists devoted to physical and mental development as well as protecting other psionic creatures. The psion uncarnate is formless, fleshless, and unbound by the limits of corporeality. The thrallherd commands servants to do their will. The war mind possesses expert martial skills and claims to possess unequaled knowledge in the art of war.

So What Else Is New?

The book is chock full of new things such as the new player race called half-giant. You can also augment some powers, which effectively makes powers scale by allowing you to pump them up a bit with the expenditure of those increased power points I mentioned earlier. You can also add several new psionic items to your game, including the psicrown, which is a headband-like item that stores several powers. You can manifest these powers from a power reserve stored within the crown itself.

A beefy section on psionic monsters rounds out the book and includes all your favorites like the brain mole and the cerebrilith, but also includes new entries such as psionic duergar, psionic versions of the illithid, and more.

Help Is Only a Click Away

Hopefully you have found something in this article that helps! If not, I'm sure that by the time you finish reading this someone will have posted a comprehensive side-by-side, number-crunching comparison of the old and new books on our message boards. If not I'm sure you will find someone there to help you along the way.

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