The Forge Archives

Archive => RPG Theory => Topic started by: dindenver on November 27, 2005, 09:42:43 PM



Title: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: dindenver on November 27, 2005, 09:42:43 PM
Hi!
  Do you feel that Psionics are appropriate for a sword and sorcery fantasy setting?
  Are psionics too sci fi? Do they have a bad rep because of its association with D&D?
  What do you think?


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Troy_Costisick on November 28, 2005, 04:40:30 AM
Heya,

When it comes to how people *feel* about a certain thing, the brutal truth is that everyone will feel a little bit differently.  Such a question as yours will ilicit a lot of personal oppinion, but none of the answers would necessarily be much benefit to you.  Instead, a question I might ask you would be "How can psionics add or subtract from your game (either the one you are playing or the one you are designing)?"  That might be more helpful.

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on November 28, 2005, 05:35:03 AM
I'll second Troy in everything he said. Furthermore, you've already stepped on a... if not a rule, then a strong recommendation and a matter of good conduct: don't start threads about opinions. The purpose of the preference is to ensure good and constructive discussion, just as Troy said. For the thread to gain a direction, could you formulate some more concrete issues for discussion? You could tell us your own theory about the literary roots of the psionical meme in fantasy, for instance. (I'm sure D&D didn't invent it, but I can't name any obvious early fantasy authors, either.) Or we could discuss the semantics of the term: why do you even think that "psionics" are or should be appreciably different and distinguishable from magic? Or any of a dozen other topics.


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Durgil on November 28, 2005, 05:37:54 AM
The H‚rn setting, which is based on a 10th to 13th century Earth, does a pretty good job of blending psionics into its world structure. †Also, Isaac Bonewit has inate psionic power as the bases of spell casting in his book, Authentic Thaumaturgy. †If it is well thought out, I think it can be used very effectively.


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: HMT on November 28, 2005, 06:43:27 AM
One could argue that most of the magic in Tolkien's book, The Lord of the Rings, feels like psionics (mechanically). I think a large part of whether psionics fits into a fantasy setting depends upon how the effects are described.


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Mike Holmes on November 28, 2005, 07:26:40 AM
I believe, and I may be wrong here, that psionics were added to D&D because of the Jack Vance influence on Gygax. Well, that, and of course, the whole "kitchen sink" approach of throwing in everything that sounded remotely interesting. Which gets you, well...D&D. As has been noted, D&D has become it's own entire genre, a subgenre of fantasy. Not really at all like Tolkien, or Vance, or Howard, or any of the influences, but notable in that it's a melange.

It's interesting that a setting like Harn, then, is actually appealing to this newly created aesthetic. As if there is no other that could appeal to a RPG player.

I agree with others to keep away from opinion here, but the following is not opinion. There are players who will be attracted to a D&D-esque game, and there are players who will be repelled by it. Just as there will be players attracted and repelled by a game that has it's own aesthetic. To say nothing of some new aesthetic that you might evolve using fantasy and psionics. The real question is not whether or not to put something like this in. It's how well you execute a vision of these things that make the game fun to actually play.

Simply choose a concept that you have a strong vision towards and execute towards that: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=7778.0

Mike


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Andrew Morris on November 28, 2005, 08:25:05 AM
Hi Dave. Welcome to the Forge.

As has been pointed out in the other thread you created, you should read the sticky posts. The Forge has a set of rules and etiquette that is very different from the rest of the internet. For example, opinion threads -- like this one -- are not kosher.

If you have any questions about the policies here, don't hestitate to contact other members. Ron Edwards is the main moderator, and is always willing to answer questions. I'm happy to help new posters, since I was new not so very long ago, myself.

Don't feel like this is an attempt to dismiss you in any way. We're all very happy to see new participants, and we'd love to help you get into the swing of things here.


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: dindenver on November 28, 2005, 06:06:50 PM
Hi!
  Well, at this point, I really am looking for an opinion. I know that they will be varied, but I am trying to gauge if I include psionics in my game if it will turn potential gamers on or off just by including it.
  In my setting, supernatural powers fall into three categories:
     Magic - Magic works by summoning light, matter, beings and ideas
     Prayer - Prayer works by focusing faith, prayers and the astral world to improve or impair the world around the Priest
     Mystic Techniques - Draws from discipline, techniques and the power of the natural world (Sort of a cross between psionics and martial arts powers)
  Each includes a system to customize your own list spells, prayers and techniques. and utilize different systems.
  But when you are trying to sell to your customer, they will decide to buy it or not before they get a chance to learn why there are psionics in your fantasy setting. So I need an opinion of what people think. I'll put the opinions together and try to make a decent marketing plan. At least that's the plan so far...


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Callan S. on November 28, 2005, 06:58:58 PM
Well, instead of 'Should I have psionics?' couldn't the question be 'Is there any way I can educate the customer as to why psionics are an important part of this game, so they don't just dismiss the game without fair evaluation?'

In which case we'd start talking about the blurb, what's inside the front cover, stuff that catches the eye through the book (ie, art in the book that you spot when idly flipping through), and how it can fully inform the customer.


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Justin Marx on November 28, 2005, 07:18:02 PM
Dave, your breakdown of magical influences seemed heavily influenced by Rolemaster's Channeling/Essence/Mentalism - in fact, it seems identical to it. In RM, psionics are a fairly useless addition, and with your breakdown of powers I wouldn't think it hugely neccessary. Did you take this breakdown from RM, or from something else?

I think it is more important for you to define how magic interacts with the gameworld. Otherwise it becomes the 'kitchen-sink' effect Mike mentioned. Maybe you want to check out:  http://users.tkk.fi/~vesanto/MagicHtmls/Steps.html if you haven't already. If psionics is appropriate for your setting, then put it in, but otherwise it becomes splat-book additional rubbish that probably won't make a difference. I mean, I don't think psionics is that big a marketing thing - I'm sure there are d20 splats for incorporating it in into D&D already anyway, why bother competing over something that's already been done to death?


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Andrew Morris on November 28, 2005, 07:22:15 PM
Designing by opinion poll is pretty much antithetical to the philosophy here at the Forge, so I don't really  think you'll get much feedback. I'd much rather discuss your game and why you think it's the most awesome thing since sliced bread. If you don't think it is, of course, I'm probably not going to be that interested in learning more. There are a few good threads from not that long ago that deal with why opinion polling is/is not useful in game design, so you might want to do a quick search and read those. If you can't find them, just PM me, and I'll see if I can track them down for you.

A great example of why opinion polling doesn't work is Capes. Now, I'm a huge fan of that game. But if Tony had asked me before I'd played it if I'd be interested in a superhero game that had no GM, I'd probably have said, "Nah, I'm not that into supers, and I think a GM-less game is the dumbest idea ever." But after seeing the excitement and energy Tony had for his project, I gave it a shot, and I ended up loving it.

Sometimes, the people you're polling don't know themselves what they "would" like in a game.


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: dindenver on November 28, 2005, 07:35:11 PM
Hi!
  I already designed it, I am not designing by commitee, I am devloping marketing by commitee. Which I think has proven to be pretty effective...
  And I really want negative opinions. These are the hurdles I have to overcome in order to drive this game from a fanciful idea into a valuable use of my time...


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Andrew Morris on November 28, 2005, 08:19:59 PM
Okay, Dave, gotcha. This should really be in Publishing, then. As to whether or not the psionics is a fantasy setting would be a selling point...for me, the answer would be no. It wouldn't turn me off from the game, but it wouldn't get me jazzed about it, either. Psionics in a fantasy setting has been done before (D&D had psionics). What would get me excited about your game is whatever it is that makes it unique, and why you think it is awesome.


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: dindenver on November 28, 2005, 08:44:45 PM
Hi!
  Cool, thanks. You know, I never really bothered to learn magic in RM and thought I was making something original. I have seen some of the spell lists and I don't think you can do the same things in my game as RM, but I could be wrong.
  I guess I am still editing and trying to drum up some decent art, so I didn't think I was ready for publishers forum...
  Thanks for the feedback, you guys have given me alot to think about...


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Andrew Morris on November 28, 2005, 09:17:11 PM
"Publishing," as it's used around here, can include anything from putting your game up as a free download on a website to full-on offset printing. And if this thread has given you a lot to think about, you should post your game (or specific elements of the mechanics) for review. If you have questions as to how to go about doing that, read the sticky posts in Indie Game Design (or you can send me a PM and I'll help you out).


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Steve Marsh (Ethesis) on November 30, 2005, 08:23:18 PM
I believe, and I may be wrong here, that psionics were added to D&D because of the Jack Vance influence on Gygax. Well, that, and of course, the whole "kitchen sink" approach of throwing in everything that sounded remotely interesting. Which gets you, well...D&D. As has been noted, D&D has become it's own entire genre, a subgenre of fantasy. Not really at all like Tolkien, or Vance, or Howard, or any of the influences, but notable in that it's a melange.

It's interesting that a setting like Harn, then, is actually appealing to this newly created aesthetic. As if there is no other that could appeal to a RPG player.

I agree with others to keep away from opinion here, but the following is not opinion. There are players who will be attracted to a D&D-esque game, and there are players who will be repelled by it. Just as there will be players attracted and repelled by a game that has it's own aesthetic. To say nothing of some new aesthetic that you might evolve using fantasy and psionics. The real question is not whether or not to put something like this in. It's how well you execute a vision of these things that make the game fun to actually play.

Simply choose a concept that you have a strong vision towards and execute towards that: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=7778.0

Mike

Psionics were added to D&D as the result of two character classes, the mystic and the devine, that were in process.  Mystics were finished, Devines (who used the psionic attack and defense modes) were not.  Tim Kask cut the material up and put it into Eldritch Wizardry.

You would have to ask him why he did what he did as an editor.

In SF, psionics came about because for a long time, editors would not buy magic stories for most magazines.  So if you wanted magic, you did psionics.

Now, psionics seems to show up a lot, but it isn't required.


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Steve Marsh (Ethesis) on November 30, 2005, 08:25:54 PM
Hi!
  I already designed it, I am not designing by commitee, I am devloping marketing by commitee. Which I think has proven to be pretty effective...
  And I really want negative opinions. These are the hurdles I have to overcome in order to drive this game from a fanciful idea into a valuable use of my time...


Nice phrase.  It would make a great tag line.

Steve Marsh
I am not designing by commitee, I am devloping marketing by commitee


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Mike Holmes on December 01, 2005, 10:27:46 AM
Psionics were added to D&D as the result of two character classes, the mystic and the devine, that were in process.† Mystics were finished, Devines (who used the psionic attack and defense modes) were not.† Tim Kask cut the material up and put it into Eldritch Wizardry.

You would have to ask him why he did what he did as an editor.
That's some interesting background. I guess the real question, then, is what was the impetus for these classes? Still sounds like the kitchen sink drive. Though the "devines" sounds like some sort of paralleism. In any case, adding new classes just to have options is about the worst way to try to improve a game.

Who are you, Ethesis, who are so wise in the ways of very early D&D? Got a name?

Mike


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Steve Marsh (Ethesis) on December 01, 2005, 10:55:48 AM
Psionics were added to D&D as the result of two character classes, the mystic and the devine, that were in process.  Mystics were finished, Devines (who used the psionic attack and defense modes) were not.  Tim Kask cut the material up and put it into Eldritch Wizardry.

You would have to ask him why he did what he did as an editor.
That's some interesting background. I guess the real question, then, is what was the impetus for these classes? Still sounds like the kitchen sink drive. Though the "devines" sounds like some sort of paralleism. In any case, adding new classes just to have options is about the worst way to try to improve a game.

Who are you, Ethesis, who are so wise in the ways of very early D&D? Got a name?

Mike

The "Steve Marsh" at the end my post was me signing my name.  I designed Mystics as a way to add a sort of cleric from the Indian Sub-Continent.  Gary Gygax was designing Divines or Devines in order to have a psionic combat class.

Adding new classes was a great way to play with D&D, I think it probably still is.  Wasn't "just to have options" that Druids and Rangers and Paladins and Thieves were added ...


Steve Marsh
I am not designing by commitee, I am developing marketing by commitee (hmm, that was fun as a tag line once, maybe not any more).

http://adrr.com/story/ (for my artwork)
http://adrr.com/hero/ (for my heroquest stuff)
http://adrr.com/hero/scenarios/ (for some scenarios)
http://adrr.com/hero/norns/index.htm (for setting/rules materials)
http://adrr.com/hero/wildhunt/index.htm (for more misc. scenarios)
http://adrr.com/story/project.htm (etc.)

I ended up at the Forge when someone posted a link to some essays here, I dropped in and read them and decided to browse the forums.

The Acaeum http://www.acaeum.com/phpBB2/index.php and Dragonsfoot http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewforum.php?f=11 got my attention early.


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: M. J. Young on December 01, 2005, 06:58:18 PM
I didn't think I was ready for publishers forum...
Actually, in some sense the entirety of The Forge is a "publishers forum". The site is about how to design and publish your own game.

The forum area in question is called "Publishing", and is about the particulars of how to get your game out there and get people to want it.

And just so you don't get offended by the shock when it comes, the question you raised is what most of us here would consider a non-issue--the inclusion or exclusion of psionics in your game is not really much more than what language you want to use to describe one set of game rules. There are probably twenty other things you've taken entirely for granted in your design which would have brought lots of questions and challenges, since most people's first game attempts make far too many "this is how these things are done" assumptions, and we've seen them and seen through them so many times by now that sometimes we're a bit quick to point to them when they appear (like, did you really need a separate combat system, and why are you using attribute+skill for success checks, and all the stuff "everybody does"--not saying you did either of those things, but they're terribly common and usually mistakes).

So, welcome to The Forge. Fasten your seat belt.

--M. J. Young


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: dindenver on December 01, 2005, 07:51:11 PM
Hi!
  This is not my first game, but it's the first time I thought I could publish it. It's written, I am editing and trying to get art.
  I am kind of scrambling. I didn't do any research into publishing before because I had a friend who said he knew people. That has fallen through, so I am playing catch up. I never thought I would have a chance to get a game published, but it looks like there are lots of inexpensive and/or innovative options.
  It seems like this is a pretty focus community, so I am hoping that I can get answers to directed questions. I am slowly getting the hang of it around here though.


Title: Re: Psionics in a fantasy setting?
Post by: Andrew Morris on December 01, 2005, 08:39:19 PM
Dave, you'll find that a lot of the really useful stuff for you has already been covered many times. The search function is your best friend. Use it to find some threads on the area of interest, then if you still have questions, start a thread. That's probably the best way to go about it.

I have the feeling that one of the first topics you'll want to look into is publishing. All (or at least the vast majority) of the game designers here are their own publishers. There are several threads on how this is a more financially viable option than going through the traditional three-tier route. For example, you can get your game in print with entirely no money up front (or very little).

Some resources to get you started:
How to Make Your Own Role-playing Game (Cheap) (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/14/)
POD printer round up (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16359.15)