Think You Know Everything About Psionics? Think Again
In ages past, those who wielded psionic power were ignored. Then, as folk witnessed first hand their strange abilities, they were scorned and treated like outcasts. Over time, they have carved niches for themselves in society. Now you can rub shoulders with them at the local inn, trade with them in the bustling streets, and follow them on some great adventure. Psionic characters are everywhere, and your world is all the better for it.
This companion to Expanded Psionics Handbook builds on the existing psionics rules and presents exciting new options for psionic characters and psionic "dabblers." In addition to clarifying concepts introduced in Expanded Psionics Handbook, it presents 3 new standard classes - the ardent, the erudite, and the lurk - plus a host of new prestige classes, feats, spells, magic items, astral constructs, and organizations.
Complete Psionic (2006), by Bruce R. Cordell and Christopher Lindsay, followed the Expanded Psionics Handbook, which was wildly successful and popular. Complete Psionic seeks to expand psionic options even further, combining aspects of the "Races of..." splatbooks along with the traditional format of the previous five Complete books. This psionics supplement, however, ended up angering some psionics fans by including official errata that substantially reduced the power of certain psionic abilities. Regardless, the book contains three new and fun core classes, alongside a variety of new psionic powers and feats.
Controversy. Common wisdom held that the previous 3.5 D&D psionics book, Expanded Psionics Handbook, was moderately over-powering due to the flexibility of its point-based psionics system. Complete Psionic sought to address this by ramping down certain powers, such as astral construct, with official errata. The change did not go over well with many psionics fans. Complaints about the book also centered on the claim that the rules muddled magic and psionics, and that they seemed to have a modicum of redundant feats.
Successful Classes. That said, the book does many things extremely well. One of the best is the new classes. They walk the line between flexibility and power, combining psionic power with more traditional archetypes to create innovative and memorable classes. The "ardent" has a small number of powers, as they rely on auras called "psionic mantles." These mantles represent the psionic distillation of universal concepts such as conflict, creation, deception, law, and the like. They grant static abilities and special powers at most levels. Ardents tend toward adventure and philosophical exploration, seeking signs of their philosophies everywhere they go.
The "divine mind" also uses mantles, but is a more martial psionic character who channels the divine. If ardents are like philosopher-clerics, divine minds are like paladins. Their psionic abilities come from the domains of their deity, and their psychic aura affects those around them. It's a fascinating melding that proves fun to play.
"Lurks," by comparison, are psionic rogues who use their abilities to amplify and improve their natural stealth. They make excellent assassins, able to reach difficult locations and attack with stealth and surprise, but are relatively skill-poor and depend more on their powers than they do on their skills. A lurk would make an infuriating NPC antagonist for a group of PCs.
Prestige Classes and the Feats That Support Them. The prestige classes primarily make the base classes better instead of exploring completely new angles or specializing in esoteric niches. The "zerth cenobite" (a time manipulator) and the "stormwalker" (adding lightning to all nearby allies' attacks) are exceptions, with the other prestige classes fundamentally focusing and improving their base psionic classes. The "soulknife" gets particular love, with the "ilumine soul" gaining anti-undead attacks and the "soulbow" focusing on ranged attacks.
As is usual for the Complete books, there are a large number of feats. Many of these are specialized, such as racial feats, host feats, and illithid heritage feats. I'm not convinced that many characters will want to embrace their illithid heritage - how good do brains even taste, anyway? - so it's good that the psionic feats are intriguing and useful. Many of these improve existing psionic abilities, such as Dire Stub, which allows lurks to stun foes for an extended period of time with their class ability.
Mantles and Powers. As you'd expect, there are plenty of new powers for all the psionic classes. Stygian powers give psions the ability to use negative energy in several different ways, divine minds are given a few healing powers, and there's a full array of mantles for the ardent and the divine mind. These are consistently well balanced and interesting, with flavor that carries through nicely. Ethereal abduction may resemble maze, but it's hard to beat misty tendrils that drag your screaming victim off into an ethereal nothingness.
The astral construct power in this section is one that often draws attention, as it revises and reduces previous descriptions of the power.
Items, Creatures, and New Options. A handful of new psionic items such as the skin of fiendish embrace and various psionatrices are followed by a section detailing psionic locations as treasure. This concept is fascinating, giving temporary special powers to characters who travel to a particular unique spot. New monsters follow, including a handy summary of a variety of astral constructs so that psions don't have to do the math each time the power is manifested. A new character race is also introduced: The synad are psionic humanoids with a threefold mind, able to tap into a common mental network for information and occasionally able to take more than one mental action in a turn.
Psionic houses and racial classes are also detailed. For players desiring to avoid effective level adjustments for monstrous characters, rules are presented allowing the gradual gain of racial abilities. The book ends with rules for epic psionics and a variant class for the psion, the "erudite," most akin to the wizard in how the scholarly psionicist gathers and selects psionic powers for use.
About the Creators. ENnie Award-winning designer Bruce R. Cordell has been Wizards' go-to designer for psionics and tentacular monstrosities ever since he authored The Gates of Firestorm Peak (1996) and the Illithiad triad of adventures (1998). Christopher Lindsay is a Washington-based designer and author.
About the Product Historian
History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.