|First edition AD&D included an appendix on psionics, which characters had a very small chance of having as an innate ability. Second edition eliminated these powers, but then reintroduced them in a new context, the Psionicst class, with a new set of mechanics. It is not impossible to integrate the two systems.|
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|The Player's Handbook includes an appendix on Psionics as an optional expansion of the first edition rules. Any character might be born with these psionic abilities, which would give him special talents useful in combat and in exploration; the gods had such powers, and a growing number of monsters were released with skills in this area. Skills always included attacks (mostly limited to use against other psionic characters and creatures) and defenses (which only protected against psionic attacks), along with sciences and devotions which provided a wide variety of tricks for many purposes. Characters quickly learned that one of the best uses for a "wish" was to wish for psionic abilities, which would often give the character new powers available for the remainder of his life. For most skills, success was "automatic"--it would do what it was designed to do without a roll, provided the character had enough "strength points" to use it. Characters often had hundreds of strength points, and could restore them to full with a night's rest. In the minds of many players and DM's, these psionics tended to unbalance the game--those who had them were extremely powerful--and they were not included in the original second edition materials.|
|The Psionics Handbook also allowed other characters to have such abilities, under the concept of the "wild talent". These characters take a serious risk in attempting to do what the psionicist does without the training and direction of the class's instructors. If a character fails, he may permanently do serious damage to his ability scores. If he succeeds, he gains one random ability. Although the risks are great, the power may be acquired without resorting to powerful magic, and so has some appeal to players who trust their dice luck.|
|The DM must first understand that many things in second edition use the same names as first edition to mean different things. Most notably, the word "discipline" in first edition referred generally to sciences and devotions, while in second edition it refers to categories of ability related by type. Psionic Strength, measured in points in first edition, is used somewhat differently from Psionic Strength Points in second edition. Second edition attacks do very different things from first edition attacks, and second edition defenses have a lot less variety in effects, although all carry the same names. Some of the first edition disciplines have been recreated in second edition in an attenuated version, sometimes split into two or more abilities, sometimes rewritten in a different way. Do not assume that you understand any skill from one version based on its description in the other. You cannot integrate these abilities without a copy of both the first edition Player's Handbook and the second edition Psionics Handbook.|
|Psionic combat is not very frequent in most campaigns. The real power and advantage of psionics lies in its use as "tricks" which help in the adventure or sometimes facilitate physical combat. Since those things are well defined for each type of psionics, they become part of the scenario entirely unaltered. Whatever a natural could do he does the same way whether there are psionicists or not; whatever a psionicist can do is unaffected by the existence of naturals. What the psionicist lacks in power he amply compensates for in variety. Although not as limited as the wild talent, the natural is something of a one-trick pony by comparison despite the power and reliability of his abilities.|
|Whenever a character launches a psionic attack against another character, he attacks according to the rules for his form of psionics. If the opponent does have psionic abilities but doesn't have or use a psionic defense, he is treated as a defenseless psionic would be under the rules which control that attack form; a character without psionics is also treated as the rules for that attack form specify, for a non-psionic defender. So the problem which arises comes in when two psionic characters from different systems engage in combat against each other; and the solution is not difficult at all. Whenever such combat is joined, each attacks under the rules for his own system; each activates defenses according to the rules for his own system. But the effects of any defense against any attack are as defined by the attacker's system, not the defenders. This gives each attacker the expected advantage of his attack, and provides an appropriate protection for any defense used.|
|There is another detail which should be considered: what does a character get in response to a wish? I have several notions on this which may prove useful. First, as mentioned, no character has any knowledge or experience in psionics before the game begins, unless he is a psionicist or rolls natural psionics; thus no character can wish for psionic powers specifically unless he encounters someone who has them. Second, just because a character sees someone use a mind trick doesn't mean that he understands the contents of the psionics rules--they only know that you can do the one trick, and cannot wish for more. Third, if the character wishes for something which can be done by psionics (intending to end-run the restriction), the referee is free to consider whether it can be done another way, such as through the possession of a magic item. A Wand of Magic Detection is a satisfactory answer to a wish to detect magic, if the character can use it. There is no intrinsic reason why such powers cannot be conferred through special magic items, such as one-of-a-kind rings, so that the character has the ability without having the psionics. Fourth, a character who wishes to be able to "do that" should be restricted to gaining a single skill as a wild talent, regardless of the manner in which it was done by the person he saw do it. A character cannot reasonably wish to have all the abilities of a Psionicist if he is unable to become one (although the Hat of Difference in the BD&D Book of Marvelous Magic can be an interesting response to such a wish); such a wish could in theory eliminate all of the character's abilities in his original class and convert him to a Psionicist of the same level, if the DM cares for the work involved. It is theoretically possible to wish for Natural Psionics, although the wish would have to be based on contact with a character or creature who had such abilities and would have to be very carefully phrased. Such a wish would result in the referee determining psionic abilities just as if the player had made a successful roll for Natural Psionics during the character creation phase--the player would have little control over which psionic ability his character acquired.|
|No Psionicist would ever wish for either a Wild Talent or Natural Psionics; cursed with such a thing, he would only use it if facing certain death, and even then with reluctance. A Psionicist regards such powers as things to be meticulously studied and mastered through training and practice, and very dangerous if acquired or exercised under any other circumstances. If a Psionicist character suggests making such a wish, the DM should warn the player, explaining this; if the player insists, the wish should be granted, but the character should be docked at least two levels, and all training times (and expenses) doubled until the lost levels are recovered, and all grades related to the wish and on any adventure on which the magically-acquired abilities are used should be 4 (that is, the worst possible), since both the acquisition and the use of such skills by a psionicist would be entirely contrary to the mindset of his class. Note that a psionicist is not penalized for possessing such skills before becoming a psionicist--that is, if rolled during character creation or obtained by a character who subsequently changes classes to psionicist; however, the use of such skills by the psionicist, even at great need, should result in a lower grade for that adventure.|
The Frontier: M. J. Young suggests how to explain the presence of characters from multiple AD&D settings in one place, and provide support structures for them, based on the concept of the New World.
Now You Look Human: Some demi-human races will be perceived as human under certain circumstances; which ones, when, and by whom are all important questions, addressed here.
When Worlds Collide: Each of the standard settings in AD&D contains cultural nuances which result in attitudes and perspectives which will come into play as the player characters interact with each other and those around them.
You Don't Look Elvish: How races are perceived by those in other milieus is discussed in some detail.
A Nice Kid Like You: Some races pose particular problems related to explaining their presence in a new land. Those problems are addressed.
A Class Act: Problems and motivations of particular classes are discussed and resolved.
All In the Mind: Second Edition Psionics may be integrated into a First Edition campaign if desired, bringing the Psionicist class and the Wild Talent into play alongside Natural Psionics.
Character Creation for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition:
Called a life saver by more than one DM, the materials M. J. Young has developed to enable players to create characters have been posted and expanded for others. When a game is beginning or a player is joining, this site is the place to start.
Martial Arts Rules for Role Playing Games:
For Oriental characters, this site explains and expands the 1st Ed. AD&D martial arts materials, including a large and varied selection of compatible styles, and also presenting similar materials for the Multiverser game.
Multiverser Information Center:
The role playing game which truly integrates all milieus, all worlds, and all other role playing games is presented and described here. It's worth a look.