I continue to plug away on my ACKS Psionicist and I’m happy with where things are going. I’ve had positive feedback on the psionic combat system. It feels more streamlined and can handle up to four simultaneous combatants. Wild Talents as Proficiencies works well. Higher level play comes with building Academies. Higher level play also features Rituals. They are similar to ritual spells for mages. Psionicists can create dorjes as psionic item similar to mage scrolls. High level psionicist can also create Astral Constructs (this doesn’t function like crossbreeds, but is an equivalent ability) and generate Thralls (equivalent to a mages that choose to become necromancers).
Thralls are interesting because it grants the psionicist complete control over an individual or creature. A thrall is not mindless, but they cannot act contrary to their master’s wishes. This ability opens up many possibilities for play. For example, a thrall could be a local government official or even the King! A psionicist may decide to make an entire village into thralls. The truly ambitious could make extraplanar creatures into thralls thereby manipulating the politics of the Outer Planes. Outside of politics, though, the use of thralls allows a psionicist to generate an army fairly quickly, especially armies comprised of the typical minions of evil (ogres, orcs, bugbears,etc). Every soldier is not a thrall, but the commanders most certainly would be. In fact, one of the psionic creatures in the bestiary does this quite frequently.
Psionicists themselves can help a party in many different ways. The most easily recognizable way they can assist the party is through their utility. In some ways they function as a mage, albeit with some spells that are just weird by comparison. Some of the psionicists’ powers allow the character to temporarily gain a couple Thief abilities like Open Locks and Hide in Shadows. They can even do a bit of minor healing. The other major way they help the party is that they are the best equipped to deal with extraplanar creatures and truly alien encounters. Although I don’t include ancient technology or lasers and things in the documentation, if you have them, the psionicists will be the best equipped to handle it. They are masters of the weird. In some settings, they would make a great alternative to a Swords & Sorcery wizard.
What does all this have to do with Gamer ADD? What started as a custom class has turned into something much larger. It will take me longer to finish than I thought. To do the class right in ACKS requires stronghold rules (thus the academies). To do psionics right requires a bestiary (and the phrenic scourge at a minimum.) Astral constructs were not in the original idea, but I’ve added them as a higher level option. My gamer ADD wants to also add rules for automatons as well. Automaton would be kind of like golems with limited construction materials and a weight limit. Otherwise, they are designed to be mobile psionic power platforms. They are okay bodyguards as they can move and fight on their own. For their real abilities, though, they need the psionicist nearby to activate their powers. One of their cool powers, if I decide to finish them, would be their usage as a means to teleport very large distances. One could be placed somewhere in the astral sea, another planet, or half way around the world, but because of the powers infused in the automaton, the psionicist can teleport to it with relative ease.
Mostly, though, I feel like defining the role of the psionicist is most important. In the earliest drafts, psionicists were more like anti-clerics. They had the same powers as Clerics, but instead of receiving power through devotion to a deity, their power came from an inner source. It makes for interesting role-playing that the Cleric in the party may not like the Psionicist. It occurred to me that if they are simply Clerics with a different power source, that I am just making a class similar to the Bladedancer. Since I am aiming for a fifth core class, this doesn’t feel correct. In later drafts, the psionicist role was simply to be the second string fighter, thief, cleric or mage depending on what the party would need. That’s not really a role, though. That’s just saying that this new class is a combination of the other four classes. Again, this isn’t a fifth category, but mashup of the other four.
So I’ve chosen to define the psionicist an alternate spellcaster solves problems through powers that morph the manifester’s body or control the actions of others.The psionicist is very direct in getting what he or she wants. If the manifester can’t transform himself into something to address an issue, he can directly manipulate others to do it for him. Psionicists tend to be direct in combat at lower level, but learn to use their unique powers at higher levels. They are able to inspire those around them through the force of their personality. They are also acutely aware of the reality of the multiverse behind what can be experienced through the five senses. It isn’t unusual for a psionicist to connect with extraplanar creatures or beings on other planets. They are rarely surprised. As they advance in levels it becomes almost impossible for a psionicist to experience shock, awe, or horror. The psionicists sees himself as the conduit between the world most people experience and the reality that actually guides the multiverse on its course. They can go anywhere, be anything and change reality.
I really do hope to be finished with the supplement this week. It will be fairly rough, but I want to get it out rather than spend the time on editing. Until then, work continues.