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Blood, Soul, and Spirit: Ten New Psionic Rituals for Dark Sun

psionic practitioner transAbout a month ago, I was working out a way to put more rituals into my Dark Sun Campaign that I run for a local gaming group here in Michigan.  In my blog, The Residuum Conundrum: Rituals in Dark Sun , I explored a few options to work out how rituals would be used on Athas, using psionic power rather than drawing from divine or arcane sources, and relying on an alternative to residuum – a psionically charged mineral called a focus crystal.

But I wanted to go a step further and take a look at creating new rituals which would be more like classic psionic powers from previous editions.  My main source of inspiration was the Psionic Handbook from D&D 3.5, which has a wide range of really excellent psionic powers, many of which were not translated into the psionic classes from the 4E PHB3 due to the sheer number of powers (there are tons of them!), and the fact that many of them didn’t fit as either an attack power or a utility power.

But as with many older D&D spells, quite a few of these psionic powers can be translated quite well into rituals, offering heroes a chance to access a different power base to gain their benefits without fitting into the At-Will/Encounter/Daily Attack/Utility framework.  To differentiate these psionic rituals from the standard ones found in other sources, I refer to them as mantras – being defined as a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of creating spiritual transformation – which seems apropos for a psionic ritual.

I came up with three types of psionic mantras developed on Athas to replace those using divine or arcane power to fuel them: Blood Mantras, Soul Mantras, and Spirit Mantras.  Each type of mantra derives its power from a different part of the practitioner, in addition to the gold cost in focus crystals, drawing upon their life force, their psionic power points, or their conscious mind.

Psionic Mantra Basics

Of the three types of psionic mantras, the Blood Mantra is often viewed as dangerous and evil, although they are commonly used quite safely, without causing harm to anyone.  This mantra requires both a focus crystal and a sacrifice of life force in order to activate, usually taken from the practitioner (ritual caster), but can sometimes be borrowed or stolen from other living beings.  focus crystalsThe life force is taken in the form of healing surges, and can require more than one to activate the mantra.  If another being is used to supply the life force, and does not have healing surges, then they lose hit points equal to the healing surge value of the practitioner – which might kill the victim if multiple surges are required.

The second type of psionic mantra is the Soul Mantra.  This type of mantra uses psionic power points to activate or channel the mantras’ benefits, so can only be learned by a hero that has psionic power points from their class.  Like the Blood Mantra, the Soul Mantra still requires a focus crystal to supply the material cost, and psionic power points are spent to either initially activate the mantra or are spent while the mantra is active in order to produce the beneficial effects.

The final type of psionic mantra is the Spirit Mantra.  This mantra draws its power from the conscious mind of the practitioner, forcing it into a trance.  Being in a trance does not harm the practitioner, but it does make them more vulnerable to harm if attacked due to their attention being focused on the “spiritual” realms.

New Condition

Entranced: The character voluntarily enters a trance.
Penalties: The character grants combat advantage, and takes a -2 penalty to Perception checks.  The trance can be dropped at any time (free action), but the penalties from the entranced condition last until the end of the character’s next turn.

Athasian Mantras

Adapt Body (Blood)

Level: 9 Cost: 325 gp + 2 Healing Surges
Category: Exploration Market: 900 gp
Time: 30 minutes Key Skill: Endurance check
Duration: Variable

This mantra allows the caster to overcome adverse effects of environmental conditions, such as extreme heat, frigid cold, or lack of air.  The mantra does not prevent hunger, thirst, or resistance to attacks from fire or cold or attacks delivered by gases/breathing, it merely makes prolonged exposure to such environments tolerable without hardship.  While under the effects of the mantra, the practitioner is not required to make an Endurance roll under the rules for Environmental Dangers or the Rule of Three (see DMG pp 158-9) for dealing with heat, cold, or airless conditions.  The duration for this ability is equal to half the result of the Endurance check in hours, or until the practitioner takes an extended rest.

Cloud Mind (Spirit)

Level: 4 Cost: 30 gp
Category: Deception Market: 175 gp
Time: 10 minutes Key Skill: Insight check (no roll)
Duration: Special

Under the effects of a Cloud Mind mantra, the practitioner can become completely undetectable to a creature (or creatures).  The practitioner can expend a psionic power point when it encounters any creature, and become completely undetectable in the mind of the target, both invisible and inaudible, and undetectable to even tremorsense, scent, and other methods of perception.  So long as the practitioner does not affect the creature in any way, the mantra will continue to keep the creature from noticing the practitioner.  The effect is automatically broken if the practitioner attacks or affects the creature in any way.  The clouding effect may be broken if the practitioner changes something in the creatures environment, such as steals an object, opens a door within plain sight, or is alerted to the practitioner presence by an ally of the target.  The target may make a Perception check against a Hard DC equal to the Level of the practitioner if there is an obvious change in its environment or warned by an ally, at which point the mantra can no longer affect that target.  Additional creatures can be clouded by spending psionic power points, but cannot affect a target which has been previously under the influence of the current mantra, or has been recently harmed by the practitioner.  The mantra lasts until the practitioner takes a short rest and recovers the spent psionic power points.

Danger Sense (Soul)

Level: 5 Cost: 50 gp
Category: Divination Market: 250 gp
Time: 10 minutes Key Skill: Insight check (no roll)
Duration: 1 hour

By initiating this mantra, the practitioner enters a heightened state of awareness, allowing a heightened reaction to danger before it presents itself.  By sacrificing a psionic power point to hold the mantra in the subconscious, the practitioner gains +2 to all defenses against attacks from traps and hazards for the duration of one hour, or until the practitioner takes a short rest.

Empathic Transfer (Spirit/Blood)

Level: 4 Cost: 30 gp
Category: Restoration Market: 175 gp
Time: 30 minutes Key Skill: Insight Check (special)
Duration: Permanent

Using this mantra allows the practitioner to transfer harmful effects such as poison and disease, or even wounds, from a willing creature to himself.  The practitioner must touch the target during the casting time of the mantra, and both the practitioner and the target enter a trance.  The practitioner spends two healing surges, and the target receives healing equal to the value of one of the practitioner’s surges.  Healing of this type requires no Insight check to complete.  Diseases and poisons can be transferred from the target to the practitioner as well, requiring an Insight check against the Endurance check DC of the disease or poison at the current stage of affliction.  For example, if the practitioner wants to transfer a disease at Stage 2 from the target, the DC to make the transfer is equal to the Endurance check required to heal the affliction.  The disease or poison is removed entirely from the target if the roll is successful, but the practitioner accepts the affliction at its current stage, and must make appropriate rolls to remove it from themselves.

Mind Probe (Spirit)

Level: 11 Cost: 500 gp
Category: Divination Market: 1800 gp
Time: 5 minutes Key Skill: Insight check
Duration: Variable

When this mantra is activated, the practitioner can access any and all memories in a creature’s mind, and force it to give answers to any question posed.  The practitioner must be within ten squares of the target, and must have both line of sight and line of effect to it, and enters a trance to pose the questions.  The practitioner can ask one question of the creature’s memories per round, and the duration lasts for a number of rounds equal to an initial Insight check, divided by 5, rounded down.  If the target is sleeping or unconscious, the practitioner automatically gets answers to the questions asked.  However, a conscious and unwilling target can detect the probing with an Insight Check (Moderate DC for the Level of the practitioner), and attempt to block the probe.  The unwilling targets can make an opposed Bluff check against an additional Insight check from the practitioner to avoid answering the question, but a successful Bluff check does not end the mantra – the practitioner can ask the question again or a new question each round.  Breaking the practitioner’s trance, killing the practitioner, or fleeing beyond the range of the effect, are the only ways to end the mantra prematurely.  Note: the Mind Probe mantra will only reveal answers according to the memories of the target, which might be inaccurate, confused, or have been altered by use of drugs or other psionic mantras.

Modify Memory (Blood/Spirit)

Level: 8 Cost: 200 gp + 2 healing surges
Category: Restoration Market: 680 gp
Time: 5 minutes Key Skill: Insight check
Duration: Permanent

This mantra allows the practitioner to modify the memory of creature, making it forget an event, remember a somewhat different version of an event, or creating memories of a new event that the creature never actually experienced.  The memories cannot be of an event longer than 5 minutes in duration, and an illogical or poorly constructed memory will be automatically dismissed as a bad dream or a fantasy.  The practitioner must enter a trance and expend two healing surges to affect the target’s memories, and the target must be within line of sight in order to be affected by the mantra.  The practitioner makes an Insight check to set the memories in place, and this becomes the DC for a unwilling creature to test against the modified memory with its own Insight check.  If the Insight check fails, the creature will accept the memories without question, making them a permanent part of their life experience.

Psychofeedback (Blood/Soul)

Level: 9 Cost: 300 gp + 3 surges
Category: Restoration Market: 800 gp
Time: 30 minutes Key Skill: Endurance check (no roll)
Duration: Variable

This mantra allows a temporary boost to an ability score of the practitioner’s choice, but causing penalty to two other scores.  The boosted ability score increases by 4, but two other scores must be reduced by 2.  The increased and decreased ability scores affect all other figured characteristics, such that gaining +4 Strength increases carrying capacity, as well as attacks and damage, while a loss of 2 to Wisdom might result in your Will Defense dropping by 1.  The mantra goes into effect when a psionic power point is spent, and the ability scores being affected can be completely changed by a minor action and spending an additional power point.  The effect of the mantra ends after the practitioner takes a short or extended rest.

Read Thoughts (Spirit)

Level: 3 Cost: 25 gp
Category: Scrying Market: 125 gp
Time: 5 minutes Key Skill: Insight check
Duration: 10 minutes

This mantra allows the practitioner to read the basic surface thoughts of minds in a burst 2 area within 10 squares.  The practitioner does not require line of sight or line of effect to the targeted area, but the effect is blocked by 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt.  Creatures with animal intelligence will have basic instinctual types of thoughts, while intelligent creatures may have surface thoughts that are fairly dull or unrevealing, depending on their current activities.  To read the surface thoughts, an Insight check is required with a DC equal to the Intelligence of the target(s).  If the practitioner tries to read the thoughts of a psionically active creature, the target gets an Insight check (DC Moderate for the Level of practitioner) to realize it is being probed.  Attempting to read the thoughts of a creature with a very high Intelligence (a score 10 or more higher than the practitioner) will cause the effect to end, and the practitioner to be stunned (save ends), and the target instantly aware it has been affected by a psionic sense.  The practitioner must be in a trance when sensing thoughts, and can change the area of effect as a free action once every minute.

Sense Link (Spirit/Blood)

Level: 1 Cost: 10 gp
Category: Scrying Market: 100 gp
Time: 30 minutes Key Skill: Insight (no roll)
Duration: 6 hours

When this mantra is active, the practitioner forms a sensory link to a willing creature, and can see, hear, taste, feel, or smell everything that the target perceives, so long as the target remains within one mile.  Only one sense can be active at a time, however, and the practitioner can change which sense is being perceived using a free action.  While the practitioner is actively receiving sensorium from the target, she must be in a trance, although the link can be dropped and re-established as often as desired until the duration elapses.  To form the sense link, both the practitioner and the willing target must expend a healing surge.  Creatures without surges lose hit points equal to the healing surge value of the practitioner to bind themselves into the link.  The link ends if either the practitioner or target take an extended rest, or is knocked unconscious (taken to 0 hit points).

Sensitivity to Psychic Impressions (Spirit)

Level: 5 Cost: 50 gp
Category: Divination Market: 250 gp
Time: 1 hour Key Skill: Insight check
Duration: Special

This mantra conjures images from a location of past events and the emotions surrounding them.  Locations absorb psychic emanations from powerful events such as births and deaths, festivals and battles, joys and terrors.  The practitioner enters a trance and can read the most recent event which took place in the area, viewing it in real time, and sensing the emotions present.  The event is perceived as shadowy and dreamlike, so minute details of those participating in the event are not discernible.  One cannot read a book from a psychic impression, but one could easily see a tembo devouring a hapless victim.  The practitioner can watch the current event, or skip to the next most recent event as desired.  The mantra reveals the most recent psychic impression at DC 10, with an additional past impression at DCs 15, 20, and 25.

= = = = =

Please feel free to use these psionic mantras as written, or modified to suit your needs, in your own Dark Sun Campaigns.  I welcome comments and feedback about these rituals, and would love to hear ideas for other rituals or suggestions for improving these.

So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!

Images used from the D&D 3.5 Psionic Handbook.

About The Author

Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.


3 Responses to “Blood, Soul, and Spirit: Ten New Psionic Rituals for Dark Sun

  1. Dave Wainio says:

    Interesting stuff. I used a couple of the same power ideas in my set of psionic feats (feats that function like channel divinity ones mechanically but are psionic). I’ll probably add a few of these to my campaign ritual list for my group’s psion. (The only character with ritual casting).


  2. [...] Blood, Soul, and Spirit: Ten New Psionic Rituals for Dark Sun from NEUROGLYPH Games ( Rate this: Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Labyrinth Lord, Roleplaying Games, Psionic, System Reference Document, Wizards ← Cherrypicking my own system [...]

  3. [...] Games posted 10 new psionic rituals for Dark Sun. I wonder if we’ll see access to any of these in an upcoming Ashes of Athas [...]

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