First Look – Psionics for Starfinder

I have begun to put serious thought into what Psiconics would look like in Starfinder. There’s a wonderful set of PF1-compatible psionics rules, and those would obviously be the place to start, but how much change would be needed?

As a thought experiment (see what I did there?!), I grabbed a 0-level psionic ability, “conceal thoughts”

Here’s the PF1-compatible version:

Conceal Thoughts
Discipline telepathy [mind-affecting]
Level cryptic 0, dread 0/1, gifted blade 1, marksman 0, psion/wilder 0, psychic warrior 0, tactician 0
Display Mental
Manifesting Time 1 standard action
Range Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target One willing creature
Duration 1 hour/level
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Power Resistance Yes (harmless)
Power Points psionic focus or 1

You protect the subject’s thoughts from analysis. While the duration lasts, the subject gains a +10 circumstance bonus on Bluff checks against those attempting to discern its true intentions with Sense Motive. It also gains a +4 bonus on its saving throw against any power or spell used to read its mind (such as read thoughts or mind probe).

Starfinder psionic warmind

(Art by grandfailure)

Now, what do we need to do to Starfinderize it?

Well, we’d have to decide what classes got it, which means we’d have to decide what psionic classes we wanted. Obviously the easiest thing to do would be just port all the PF1 psionic classes to Starfinder… but that’s not necessarily the best way for them to feel like they belong in the game. Just as a soldier isn’t *just* a space fighter, we’d want to do more than simply say “space psychic warrior” and “space psion.”

I’d want, at minimum, a pure power-of-the-mind class, a hybrid combat-class, a psionics-and-computers/machines class, and a pew-pew-psionic-blaster. For the moment we’ll call those (in order) cogitator, warmind, psiborg, and vrilokinetic. Those names may not stick, heck the concepts may no stick, but it gives us a starting point to work with.

We’ll use the core Starfinder spell rules as the basis for how psionics works, so we can dispense with things like Display. I know a lot of people like having psionic disciplines be separate from magic schools… but Starfinder is supposed to be less complex than PF1, so let’s just convert everything back to schools. I think we can keep manifesting time, but power resistance should go back to being spell resistance.

Power points is tricky. While I might want to change it in the long run, right now I am going to leave it alone. After that, it’s just a matter of tweaking rules language and balancing for Starfinder’s math assumptions.

Conceal Thoughts
Classes Cogitator 0, Warmind 0, psiborg 0
School abjuration
Manifesting Time 1 standard action
Range Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Targets One willing creature
Duration 1 hour
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance Yes (harmless)
Power Points psionic focus or 1

You protect the subject’s thoughts from analysis. While the duration lasts, the subject gains a +4 circumstance bonus on Bluff checks made to oppose Sense Motive checks. It also gains a +2 bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting divination spells.

Not earth-shattering, but it’s a start for what would be a very, very long process.

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About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on August 13, 2020, in Game Design, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Oh, yes please! I’ve been a fan of psionics since it was a percentile table in the back of the 2nd Edition DMG! I gather Dreamscarred Press won’t be tackling it, so I’m thrilled to see this. If you decide at any point to fully develop it I’d love to join in on the fun!

    Thanks for this, Owen!

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