praguepride
 member, 1201 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 14:56
Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
D&D and Pathfinder both have had psychic powers integrated into the system and I've always been curious as to why that is.

From an outsider's perspective there is little difference between magic and psychic powers and mechanically they have been very problematic, especially in the early D&D days where things like spell resistance didn't apply to psychic powers and the classes were horribly broken.

I get the mechanical appeal and there are options in both D&D and Pathfinder to get a "magic pool" that you can tap into for spells.

However the thing that really puzzles me is why did it come up in the first place? You can tie almost all of Pathfinder back to D&D and you can tie most of D&D back to classic fantasy stories like Lord of the Rings.

My only real guess for the original source of psychic stuff is Conan but I don't know much about Conan other then "barbarian".

This message had punctuation tweaked by the user at 14:56, Thu 14 Sept.

gladiusdei
 member, 576 posts
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 15:29
Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
Was the Dark Sun setting sort of the origin of psionics in D&D?  It fits the idea of mutants and alien powers, like aberrations such as Mind flayers and aboleths.  So it might have just been a way to make enemies and settings like that stand out.
bigbadron
 moderator, 15435 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 15:39
Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
In reply to gladiusdei (msg # 2):

Not really, psionics existed in the 1st edition AD&D core books, which predate Dark Sun by quite a bit.
gladiusdei
 member, 577 posts
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 15:49
Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
Does it predate mind flayers and aberrations like that?
bigbadron
 moderator, 15436 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 15:53
Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
Mind flayers (and some other psionic monsters) were in the core rules for 1e.  Though psionics was an optional set of rules, include in an appendix at the back of the books.

This message was last edited by the user at 15:55, Thu 14 Sept.

gladiusdei
 member, 578 posts
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 15:54
Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
Maybe they developed it to give those enemies a unique flavor?
bigbadron
 moderator, 15437 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 15:57
Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
That would be my guess.  Psionics were optional, so they were probably put in to vary things a bit.
bigbadron
 moderator, 15438 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 16:02
Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
Also, I just had this pointed out to me...

quote:
Mind flayers pre-dated AD&D, coming out in 1976 with the publication of Eldritch Wizardry for the OD&D white boxed set.

Thanks Manticore.
praguepride
 member, 1202 posts
 "Hugs for the Hugs God!"
 - Warhammer Fluffy-K
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 16:03
Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
I always interpreted mind flayers as a derivative of lovecraft cthulhu stories. Hence the squid heads and the ability to make people go crazy
horus
 member, 256 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 16:09
Re: Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
gladiusdei:
Does it predate mind flayers and aberrations like that?


The first appearance of the Illithid/Mind Flayer was in TSR's The Strategic Review Issue No. 1 of Spring 1975.  This would pre-date first edition AD&D by several months, at least.
Isida KepTukari
 member, 167 posts
 Elegant! Arrogant! Smart!
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 16:19
Re: Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
In addition to Cthulhu-esque stuff and psychic powers falling under "magic by a different name", I think also one must consider the time period in which D&D was created.  Crystals, mediums, psychics, and "New Age" things were in an upswing in the popular mind.
engine
 member, 434 posts
Thu 14 Sep 2017
at 16:58
Re: Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
In reply to Isida KepTukari (msg # 11):

Probably. A few of the books Gygax listed in "Appendix N" as influencing him and the game featured psychic abilities or something like them.
GreenTongue
 member, 819 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Fri 15 Sep 2017
at 10:39
Re: Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
From what I had heard there was an editor that liked psychic abilities so when the "pulp" source materials were being written, stories with that in them were more likely to be published.
This warped the genre to this day as authors catered to what they could actually get published.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_A._Palmer
Heath
 member, 2928 posts
 If my opinion changes,
 The answer is still 42.
Fri 22 Sep 2017
at 03:13
Re: Why is psychic stuff in fantasy RPGs?
Psionic abilities in 1st ed AD&D were something, if used, that you rolled a percentile dice, and something like 1 or 2% on the roll would allow psionic abilities.  Back in the day, I always thought it was a way to have non-magic users have something similar to magic.  We overused it in my campaigns--but I was a teenager in the 80s, so I'll give myself some leeway.

It was an oddball rule in 1st ed, kind of like the monks.