Thursday, July 9, 2009

Can you read my mind?

The Psion.

I wasn't expecting much when I got a look at the preview article for this "new" PHB3 class. I've never liked psionics as they always felt like a tacked on re-branded magic. Points instead of spell slots? That's creative. /sarcasm

However, after the preview of the monk class I was actually pretty excited about seeing what they'd do with the psion.

Right off the bat, I really like the new format with the designer's comments. So I'm going to focus on that rather than the nitty gritty of the psion class.

One thing that struck me is how the text refers to "psionic magic" but much of the commentary suggests that the psionic power source is more of a mental discipline. Which is it WotC? Because if it's the former...

I do like the class features of the Psion. Discipline Focus provides a couple of cool little powers, at least I'm guessing they're "little". I just wish they had given us another example to look at next to Telepathy. Andy Collins does give a hint on what the powers gained through Telepathy Focus do, so that's a bonus.

On the surface of it, Psionic Augmentation is a grand idea. Take an At-will power and with a little extra effort you can boost or change the effects. Excellent. Should be just the thing to spice up the otherwise bland spamming of the At-Wills.

On the downside, much like Crwth I thought that the swapping of Encounter Powers for augmentation points was pretty lame. While I like the idea of Augmentation the way they're doing it seems like a needlessly complicated system, and one that directly opposes the whole 4E simplicity. Crwth offers a good suggestion here but I'd go one further and eliminate the unnecessary bookkeeping of a points system. Make the Psionic Augmentation feature into the classes Encounter Power, with the appropriate levels (Augmentation I, Aug II, Aug III etc...) When the character uses a psion At-Will power the player can then augment it as his/her encounter power. The effect would be up to the level of the highest augmentation the character has attained.

The table on how many points one gets at what level is just... well, it's bad. I had to read it a couple of times before figuring out what the hell they were trying to say. While I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree, I'm not exactly retarded either. Surely there was a plainer/clearer way for WotC to get that info across. It was actually the commentary from Stephen Schubert that finally cleared it up.

The rest of the commentary is irksome. They took the old spellcasting and made it total vanilla but they brought across the 3.5 psionic point system? Because, according to Mike Mearls they "wanted to hit on the same compelling features that made psionics popular before"? Seriously? Psionics was compelling and popular? Am I that out of touch?

It also felt like time to "push the game in a new direction". Okay, I like that idea. The aim is noble but isn't this "new direction" the same old direction of 3.5? Sure, the "new" system, as Andy points out, still gives the player At-Wills to use after the points are all spent but that's just going to feel like a let-down. After firing off augmented versions for first half of an encounter who's going to enjoy going back to the plain Jane vanilla version?

Although Crwth concluded his Psion post with a tongue in cheek barb at your's truly, I am seriously thinking of giving the Psion a playtest just to see if my fears are baseless.

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