The subject of psionics in Dragonlance is one that is controversial at best. There is some evidence of psionic activity in Krynn. Morham Targonne in the War of Souls trilogy and elven telepathy are two examples of the possible use of psionics in Krynn. Generally, this is accepted as a form of magic. Indeed, Targonne was actually tapping into the mystic sphere of Mentalism.
There’s a general agreement among fans that psionics do not exist on Krynn. Yet a minority of fans do want to use psionics.
This article will seek to provide the official stance and provide some in-world flavor for the use of psionics in Krynn. This article will be presented in as much of a rules-neutral position as possible for those who wish to use psionic rules alternate to the ones presented in the Expanded Psionics Handbook.
What’s the official stance in D&D 3e?
According to Jamie Chambers, Sovereign Press will not be addressing psionics in Krynn one way or the other. The existence of psionics in Krynn will be up to the Dungeon Master.
Some products from second edition, such as Unsung Heroes, state that psionics do not exist on Krynn.
The use of psionics in your game can have potential benefits and downfalls. Psionics would provide new options for players, especially those who enjoy playing psionic characters. Likewise, psionics can be seen as possible explanations for existing concepts in Dragonlance, such as the mystic power of Mentalism.
There are a few pitfalls to be aware of, though. First and foremost is the existence of four types of magic in the world already: cleric magic, Mysticism, High Sorcery, and Wild Sorcery. Dungeon Masters should ask themselves if adding another source of power would be too much. This can be countermanded by allowing Psionics to replace Mysticism, or to use psionics prior to the Age of Mortals.
The key thing to consider is whether or not psionics fit the feel of your Dragonlance game. Critics of psionics will state that the feel of psionics doesn’t work well with D&D; in general, let alone Dragonlance. This is subjective, though. The Dungeon Master should see whether psionics would fit, and if so, how that would be.
Also consider how psionics would relate to the various orders of Ansalon. If psionics are seen as a variant form of arcane magic, then the Wizards of High Sorcery will soon make their presence known to the unsuspecting “renegade”. If psionics is seen as a form of divine magic, then the psion will have to contend with the Holy Orders of the Stars. The Citadel of Light and the Legion of Steel might offer some haven for the psions. The Knights of Solamnia would distrust this foreign power, while the Knights of Neraka would seek to take advantage of it.
Possible Origins of Psionics in Dragonlance.
Psionics = Mysticism
Though not a true translation, psionics has the most in common with the power of Mysticism. For example, Channeling and Alteration could be equated to Psychometabolism, Meditation could be equated to Clairsentience, and Mentalism could be equated to Telepathy. The augmentation of powers would help to simulate spellshaping to a degree. You may want to use some metapsionic feats as well. In essence, one would replace the mystic class with the psion.
Psionics are granted by the gods.
Perhaps some of the gods have awakened inner potential within mortals. Majere would be a prime candidate for a psionic god in Krynn, being the Master of Mind. Gilean would teach knowledge and discipline in order to unlock the mind’s inner knowledge. Zivilyn’s own would develop the power naturally as in-born talent. The evil pantheon probably wouldn’t worry about psionics, save for Takhisis (who would use psionics for conquest) and Hiddukel (who would spread untruths through the mind). Morgion would be more interested in psionic individuals going mad.
Chaos and the Greygem.
When Chaos was destroyed, and his power infused the world (thereby amplifying ambient magic), it awoke within mortals the potential to tap into their inner power, manifesting in the form of psionics. The same concept could also be applied to the passing of the Greygem, creating an offshoot within individuals. Such a person may be the only psion on Krynn.
New lands and a new position of Krynn in the universe.
The power of psionics could be a lost art, known in lands beyond Ansalon, but forgotten on the continent of Ansalon itself. Strange races and monsters would exist on such a land, unknown to the peoples of Ansalon.
Likewise, when Takhisis stole the world, she could have taken it from an area of the universe where psionic powers were dampened to one where psionic potential could be manifested.
Dragonlance is filled with various orders, so it wouldn’t be unheard of for there to be an order of psions as well. Dungeon Masters may wish to look into existing psionic orders from other sourcebooks to see if they would fit Dragonlance. The Colorless Lodge from Malhavoc Press’ If Thoughts Could Kill is one such option.
The key thing to consider is that you don’t want to create a psionic version of the Wizards of High Sorcery, with different robes per alignment, psions as “wizards”, psychic warriors as “renegade hunters”, and wilders as “renegades”. Though the model fits readily, it would come across as a bit of a rip-off.
It would be best to come up with something different and unique that has its own role in the world to play. Consider whether psionics replaces magic or is its own power within the world when creating a new order.
Psionic races and gem dragons.
There are several sources for psionic races in printed products, but none more so than in the Expanded Psionics Handbook. For the most part, psionic races do not fit the feel of a Dragonlance campaign, though the Dungeon Master should decide for himself. The one race that fits the most is the thri-kreen, who can be seen as the children of Majere (himself seen as a mantis). Races that can pass for human, such as the Elan or Kalashtar (from Eberron), will have the greatest chances for inclusion in Dragonlance.
Gem dragons are another controversial subject. The history and nature of dragons in Dragonlance is well-established. Why would gem dragons have not been seen prior to this point? Were they on another continent? Many questions have to be answered prior to including them. It should be noted that they are neutral dragons, so consider that as well in draconic conflicts. Proceed with caution where gem dragons are concerned.
Though psionics are a non-standard option for Dragonlance, Dungeon Masters and players alike may get a lot of fun out of using them. If the Dragonlance feel can be captured and psionic powers are added in a way that enhances the game, rather than taking away from other elements, the use of psionics may provide added enjoyment to one’s Dragonlance game.