Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Psion

D&D Insiders just got a sneak peak at the Psion class that will be coming out next year in the Player's Handbook 3. As soon as I saw it, I giggled inside, because I know how much Griff loves psionics... I was a bit excited to see what they had done with it, since the Psion is the only psionic character I've played in the last 20 years.

Right off the bat, I was wrong about where the Psion was going to place in the scheme of things. And, right off the bat, I got my back up when I read that the Psion has no encounter attack powers.

Until now, all classes have followed a very regular formula of what they get at each level - at-will here, daily there, new one here, new one there. So when I read that the Psion wasn't taking part in this, I immediately saw 4e going the way of 3.5, with level advancement charts for every class looking wildly different. Instead of the encounter power, the Psion gets power points, reminiscent of the points used in 3.5. These points are used to augment the at-will powers that the Psion has, basically letting him or her turn the at-wills into a pseudo-encounter power, in terms of strength and effect.

This is actually quite interesting, giving the Psion quite a bit of flexibility. The article says that, overall, the resulting effect is that the Psion is going to do as much damage as any other Controller class would do with their encounter power(s). But in this manner, the Psion is allowed to make one of the at-wills their "encounter-like" power in this battle, and another one in the next.

The fact that they don't gain an encounter power still bugs me, though, so I propose that the Psion gets this Power available at the appropriate levels:

Psionic Augmentation I
You augment your psionic powers from a well of extra will.
Encounter Psionic
Free Action Personal
Effect: Until the end of the encounter, you can spend power points on any Power with the Augmentable keyword.

This encounter Power could also be the source of the power points themselves, instead of the separate table in the article.

The Psion of 3rd edition had six Disciplines, each associated with one of the six ability scores. The article has developer commentary throughout it, and they mention that to start they focussed on the two "iconic" builds, telepathy (based on Intelligence in 3.5) and psychokinesis (base on Constitution). Since my dwarf Psion was a Savant (the psychokinesis discipline), I was excited to see that that was going to be available -- but then disappointed when this article stopped after introducing the telepath. HOW long do I have to wait?

The article also, unfortunately, saves space by listing many of the Powers, but not their descriptions, instead providing links to the Compendium. This technically isn't a problem for anyone who's reading it, since they have access to the Compendium as well, but it's awkward to have to go to each power separately to read about them, instead of just reading a handful of pages that lay them all out. Additionally (and this might just be a setting in my Reader), clicking on the links uses the same tab in which I'm reading the PDF, instead of popping up a new one. A bit of a pain, that.

The powers that I did read, though, seem not to have much focus. They mainly deal damage, but some affect in other ways (daze, stun), some do ongoing damage, some weaken defenses... on the one hand, having such a wide range of effects can be handy, true, but it doesn't allow for making a character with a theme.

In fact, the whole feel of the Psion, as I can see with this partial view, is that it's meant to be used for a hybrid character. It feels like it would go well with a Fighter, Rogue or Warlord, adding some Controller to those other roles. Perhaps once the full class is finally released that view might change, but for now, there's just ... something ... that seems to be missing to make it a complete class on its own.

Maybe I can convince Griff to playtest it...


Francis Bousho said...

I was a little taken aback by the presentation of the Psion article as well. Even though I am still disappointed in it, I can see an additional reason beyond saving space.

After all, in a digital medium like online pdfs, length of the article is secondary to ease of reading and usefulness of the material, so why would WotC abbreviate all the powers?

Because, people are downloading the Insider only material, and then distributing it via file sharing networks. While this doesn't solve the problem, it does add another layer of protection, and a time consuming one at that.

At least, I hope that's the reason. Because, if not, I'm with you. I'd rather be able to read the class without having to pop open my character builder or open additional tabs.

Not to mention that they forgot to include links for the Discipline focus powers.

Anonymous said...

a BIT of a side note... if you hold down the Control or CTRL button the keyboard it would open the link up in a new tab :D....

As for the Psion info.... I think if I want to play one... I'll go with 3.0/3.5 I don't think they have a place in 4.0 because when they were released in 3.0.... they were and Are the only class with "power points" (psionic warrior etc. yes but u get the point)

I just hope they don't bring out the monk... if they do it will dominate every other class unless they've somehow fixed that problem