Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Stealing from Athas

One of the AD&D settings that I really liked was the Dark Sun setting, it gave me that feeling of my character struggling to survive on the magic blasted desert world of Athas, with bone weapons being the norm and metal being a preciously guarded resource; one of the other things I liked about it was that it was (as far as I am aware) one of the first AD&D campaign settings to incorporate psionics into it as part of the core world rather than as just an extra tagged on almost as an after-thought.

I've been looking for an alternate 'magic' system for my nordic god-pocalypse campaign that differs from the standard Vancian magic system used in D&D/Pathfinder; this is not because I have any great dislike of vancian magic, I think it works fine with D&D, it's not the best system in the world but it's far from the worst, however I generally prefer a points based system and in my setting magic of all types failed when the gods died in the apocalypse. Psionics seems like a natural alternative to the standard D&D magic systems and I am avidly reading through Psionics Unleashed by Dreamscarred Press; in the Dark Sun campaign setting every player character had a randomly determined wild psionic talent, I want to emphasise that only the strong or those with an edge survived the god-pocalypse and that those races surviving the night of the burning stars were changed by the events of the apocalypse. Although I don't fancy having random psionic talents for my character, I do like the idea of each PC having a random psionic talent and am considering giving each of the PCs the following feat at character gen for free:

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Hidden Talent
( Expanded Psionics Handbook, p. 67) 
Your mind wakes to a previously unrealized talent for psionics.

This feat can only be taken at 1st level.

Your latent power of psionics flares to life, conferring upon you the designation of a psionic character. As a psionic character, you gain a reserve of 2 power points, and you can take psionic feats, metapsionic feats, and psionic item creation feats. If you have or take a class that grants power points, the power points gained from Hidden Talent are added to your total power point reserve.

When you take this feat, choose one 1st-level power from any psionic class list. You know this power (it becomes one of your powers known). You can manifest this power with the power points provided by this feat if you have a Charisma score of 11 or higher. If you have no psionic class levels, you are considered a 1st-level manifester when manifesting this power. If you have psionic class levels, you can manifest the power at the highest manifester level you have attained. (This is not a manifester level, and it does not add to any manifester levels gained by taking psionic classes.) If you have no psionic class levels, use Charisma to determine how powerful a power you can manifest and how hard those powers are to resist.

Note: This is an expanded version of the Wild Talent feat, intended for use in high-psionics campaigns

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My current idea is that, since I am planning to lift the non-psionic classes from Iron Heroes, I will mesh the token-pools acquired to power class abilities (see my review of Iron Heroes for details) in the Iron Heroes classes with the Psionic Point Pool from Psionics Unleashed; each class will have a single pool of tokens that they can use to both power class abilities and psionic powers.

I can see a couple of parallels between the world of Athas and the campaign that I want to create, both settings have suffered an apocalyptic event which has ravished the land and made it harder to survive on the planet and psionics are more prevalent in Athas (and will be in my campaign) than traditional D&D/Pathfinder settings; I also intend to lift the idea of most weapons and armour being made from bone and other materials more easily located than metal, also metal items tend to cause people to lose body temperature far more quickly and thus would not be particularly common in my setting - given that most items will not be made of metal I will probably use normal equipment stats and then add a small bonus for metal items but say that it increases the cold damage from the environment by some amount.