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Old Screeds

The Psionic Bloodline [30 March 2017] For those with a family history of ESP, telepathy, and mental powers, this new option for sorcerers offers a way to simulate old school psionics in a Pathfinder setting.

Art credit, with thanks: Shield Spell by Iyou

Psionic Bloodline

The mutant powers of the mind are vast and deep. With your heritage of mental prowess, you have extra-sensory perception, psychokinesis, and amazing telepathic abilities.

Class Skill: Sense Motive.

Bonus Spells: charm person (3rd), detect thoughts (5th), seek thoughts (7th), charm monster (9th), teleport (11th), forceful hand (13th), insanity (15th), maze (17th), foresight (19th).

Bonus Feats: Alertness, Deny Death, Dimensional Dervish, Diviner's Delving, Endurance, Expanded Arcana, Extra Ki, Spell Focus.

Bloodline Arcana: You use intelligence rather than charisma for all sorcerer class functions. You cast certain spells with no somatic or verbal components, specifically, spells of the divination and the conjuration (teleportation) schools, as well as spells with the mind-affecting and force descriptors. You cast these spells with their normal casting time and without using higher level slots than usual.

Bloodline Powers: Using a personal reserve of mental power, you can sense and control other minds, project mental force, and bend dimensions.

Ki Pool (Su): At first level, you gain a pool of ki points. The number of points in the your ki pool is equal to half your sorcerer level (round down) + your Int modifier. If you have at least 1 point in your ki pool, you gain a +1 bonus on concentration checks. By spending 1 ki point as a swift action, you can gain a +4 insight bonus on one Sense Motive check, or gain a +2 insight bonus on a spell penetration check, or use telepathy, with a range of 100 ft for one minute. You gain additional powers that consume points from your ki pool as you gain levels. Your ki pool is replenished each morning after 8 hours of rest or meditation; these hours do not need to be consecutive. If the you possess levels in another class that grants points to a ki pool, add all points together to make a combined pool, but only one ability score modifier is added to the total (your choice, but once made, the choice is permanent). You can use points from this pool to power the abilities of every class you possess that grants a ki pool.

Pellucid Shield (Su): At 3rd level, so long as you have at least 1 point in your ki pool, your mind erects a force defense to protect you from harm. This manifests as a translucent animated wall of force the size and shape of a tower shield. This Pellucid Shield grants a +4 shield bonus to AC against both corporeal and incorporeal attacks; it also caps your dexterity bonus to AC at +2; it imposes both a -10 armor check penalty to Dexterity- and Strength-based skill checks as well as a 50% Arcane Spell Failure Chance when casting spells with somatic components. It may be used for total cover just like a tower shield. It leaves both hands free. You may lower it for one round as a swift action at a cost of one ki point. As a full round action that costs 1 ki point, you can make it display a coat of arms of your choice until you spend another point of ki to change it.

Abundant Step (Su): At 9th level, you can slip magically between spaces, as if using the spell dimension door. Using this ability is a move action that consumes 2 points from your ki pool. Your caster level for this effect is equal to your sorcerer level. You cannot take other creatures with you when you use this ability.

Thoughtsense (Su): At 15th level, by spending two points of ki as a swift action, you can detect and locate conscious creatures within 60 feet for a duration of one minute. This ability functions similarly to blindsight. Nondetection, mind blank, and similar effects can block thoughtsense. Thoughtsense can distinguish between sentient (Intelligence 3 or greater) and nonsentient (Intelligence 1-2) creatures, but otherwise provides no information about the creatures it detects.

Domination (Su): At 20th level, you may control a target's actions in manner exactly like the dominate person spell. The minimum ki point cost to dominate a creature of your type is two points, or four points to dominate creatures of other types that are subject to mind-affecting effects, or eight points to dominate creatures that are immune to mind-affecting effects. The caster level is your sorcerer level, and the saving throw to resist the domination is 20 plus your Intelligence modifier, plus 1 for every extra ki point you spend over and above the minimum.

Design Notes: The purpose of this bloodline is to offer a lot of the flavor of psionics as presented in prior versions of the game without all the fuss and muss of a whole new magic system. A game master might balk at adding a new class or using a new system for creating psi effects, but be willing to add merely a new bloodline that uses an existing class and existing spells and rules. Ki makes a decent stand-in for the psionic points in prior versions of the rules. Using ki also lets you use existing ki-oriented magic items and feats.

A word about the third level ability: yes, it is intended to really push you to use spells without somatic components, that is, divination, conjuration (teleport), force, and mind-affecting spells. Incidentally, other non-somatic spells are also favored, such as feather fall, blur, displacement, and the power word series, but that's okay. I did not want a flat prohibition, so if you really want to cast other spells, you can use ki to lower the shield, or invest in the still spell feat. I'm also aware that this may encourage you to wear armor -- after all, any character can wear padded, leather, masterwork studded leather, and a mithral shirt with no proficiency at no penalty. A dip into fighter gives even more options. I do not think that's a bad thing, but I'd love to see it playtested.

This is the first part of a three-part series on psionics-emulation in Pathfinder without actually using psionics. The second part, a prestige class of my own creation, is here. The third part, reviewing what other game designers have offered in this area, is here.

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