If you (the DM) have never used psionics in your game before now, you may hesitate to embrace this new system of rules. To ease your transition, this section provides helpful points, background information, and additional rules to help you run a campaign that includes the art of psionics.
Adding Psionics to your Game
Faerûn has psionic creatures in it - cerebriliths, illithids and others - so adding psionics to your campaign shouldn't be a challenge. What the PCs assumed to be simple magical enchantments turn out to be far more when they encounter and recognize a fully psionic creature or a psionic PC joins the party.
Designing Psionic Adventures
Just because you've allowed psionic player characters into the party doesn't mean from this point on, all adventures must contain some seed of psionic influence. For the most part, you need not change your adventures' style.
That said, including other psionic creatures, psionic NPCs, or the occasional psionic-themed adventure in the course of your campaign will create greater verisimilitude for your players. For instance, you might create a psion instead of a spellcaster as a villain for the next encounter. Likewise, you might decide that the next randomly rolled barbarian is instead a psychic warrior or a soulknife. If the players are initially unfamiliar with psionic classes (see Psionic Classes), such characters' appearance in the game will seem all the more mysterious.
What distinguishes a "high-psionics campaign" from a campaign that includes psionic player characters and psionic-themed adventures? In short, the quantity of psionic goodies available to PCs, NPCs, and psionic creatures. A high-psionics campaign is likely to exceed high levels and pass into epic levels. In a high-psionics campaign, the PCs may come up against a foe who threatens - with conviction - to bring the moon crashing down with the tremendous power of her mind alone. The players themselves are imbued with greater than average powers (in the form of epic psionic powers and epic feats), and could themselves become objects of terror to lesser mortals.
At its most basic, a high-psionics campaign distributes simple psionic ability far more extensively than normal. Even if you don't want to aim for the high end of the scale described in the previous paragraph, you can achieve a high-psionics campaign if you sprinkle psionic classes and the Hidden Talent feat (see the sidebar) liberally through the PC and NPC population of your world.
In an ongoing campaign world where psionic power is the norm, the possession of power far beyond the capabilities of common minds does not come without a price. Even while psionic characters revel in their abilities, they should beware of afflictions that specifically target their source of power.
Ability Burn: This is a special form of ability damage that cannot be magically or psionically healed. It is caused by the use of certain psionic feats and powers (see Body Fuel and Psychofeedback). It returns only through natural healing.
Disease, Cascade Flu: Spread by brain moles and other vermin; injury; DC 13; incubation one day; damage psionic cascade.
A psionic cascade is a loss of control over psionic abilities. Using power points becomes dangerous for a character infected by cascade flu, once the incubation period has run its course. Every time an afflicted character manifests a power, she must make a DC 16 Concentration check. On a failed check, a psionic cascade is triggered. The power operates normally, but during the following round, without the character's volition, two additional powers she knows manifest randomly, and their power cost is deducted from the character's reserve. During the next round, three additional powers manifest, and so on, until all the psionic character's power points are drained. (A psionic character who knows only a few powers but has many power points could run through her entire list of powers known many times.) Powers with a range of personal or touch always affect the diseased character. For other powers that affect targets, roll d%: On a 01-50 result, the power affects the diseased character, and 51-00 indicates that the power targets other creatures in the vicinity. Psionic creatures (those that manifest their powers without paying points) cascade until all the powers they know have manifested at least twice.
As with any disease, a psionic character who is injured or attacked by a creature carrying a disease or parasite, or who otherwise has contact with contaminated material, must make an immediate Fortitude save. On a success, the disease fails to gain a foothold. On a failure, the character takes damage (or incurs the specified effect) after the incubation period. Once per day afterward, the afflicted character must make a successful Fortitude save to avoid repeating the damage. Two successful saving throws in a row indicate she has fought off the disease.
Disease, Cerebral Parasites: Spread by contact with infected psionic creatures; contact; DC 15; incubation 1d4 days; damage 1d8 power points.
Cerebral parasites are tiny organisms, undetectable to normal sight. An afflicted character may not even know he carries the parasites - until he discovers he has fewer power points for the day than expected. Psionic creatures with cerebral parasites are limited to using each of their known powers only once per day (instead of freely manifesting them).
See the note about diseases under Cascade Flu, above.
Negative Levels: Psionic characters can gain negative levels just like members of other character classes. A psionic character loses access to one power per negative level from the highest level of power he can manifest; he also loses a number of power points equal to the cost of that power, two or more powers fit these criteria, the manifester decid which one becomes inaccessible. The lost power becom available again as soon the negative level is removed, provid ing the manifester is capable of using it at that time. Lo: power points also return.
Any creature with psionic powers has the psionic subtype., psionic creature can be born with the subtype or can gain the subtype during its life.
A creature meeting any one of the following criteria has the psionic subtype:
- Creatures with a power point reserve, including characters who have levels in a character class that grants the a power point reserve or creatures who have the Wild Talent feat.
- Creatures with psi-like abilities, including characters who have racial psi-like abilities.
- Creatures that have spell-like abilities described as "psionics," including the aboleth, mind flayer, yuan-ti, and monsters from sources other than the Monster Manual.
Traits: Other than the fact that all psionic creatures have psionic powers, power points, or psi-like abilities, psionic creatures have no specific traits. The psionic subtype serves to identify creatures that may be vulnerable to powers, spells and effects targeting psionic creatures.
From Expanded Psionics Handbook by Bruce R. Cordell