I had a discussion with Cameron Corniuk on the weekend and due to that conversation I realised I have an RPG prejudice. It is not something that I consciously think of but in the long run I knew this little bit of darkness has been inside me for a good time. I have a prejudice against psionics. I literally sneer or roll my eyes when I hear that a game has a psionic supplement and it is an in built reaction.
Despite the debacle with the Strategy Guide for Pathfinder there is one other reason that I have pretty much sworn off buying Pathfinder books from here on in. That is the revelation that the Occult Adventures is in fact a psionic source book for Pathfinder. Before, psionics was only a third party thing that I could happily ignore but to continue my almost purist collection of core material I would have to buy something with psionics. No thank you. In fact, I will go as far to say that psionics in DnD styled systems are met with absolute revulsion from me.
Games that centre around psionics like White Wolf’s Trinity I actually played and liked to a degree. I still had a problem with the psionics but not as much. Right through to my psionic wielding character in MegaTraveller whom I had no issue with. So there are a broad range of prejudice with the more modern the setting providing less of a response from me. So why is it so? What happened to me that made this a thing?
Cameron asked why, and in fact pushed me to answer, and I stonewalled him. I was not really aware at that time why. I pointed at movies that were surrounded by psionic abilities that sucked. But yesterday I realised that I actually loved more movies that centred around a psionic theme that i hated like Powder or Phenomenon. So what else could it be. I made a lame attempt of saying that I did not like that it was all a power of the mind whilst wizards mumble magic words, wave wands and use materials to create their effects. But that is all rubbish.
I think I can link it back to a poor DMing experience when I was really quite new to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D). See, I played a fair bit of the basic box sets but I never really came to run the Advanced version of the game until I was in my early twenties. It was second edition AD&D and I had a good grasp on the basic rules of the game and made an adventure that was a romp through a desert that culminated in an encounter with a blue dragon. All of my players though were experienced with the game and had all expanded out into the options books (brown books aimed at revitalising the game) and they all wanted to use them.
The normal DM (Best DM I have ever had by the way) of AD&D wanted to take on a psionicist and that was OK. I was pretty much bowing to every request at that stage so I could get some experience running the game. We ran through the adventure and it all seemed to be going OK, not the best game but passable and then they come to the event I had really prepared for – the blue dragon. Long story short, the encounter lasted maybe all of two to three rounds as the psionicist turned himself into a hedgehog and teleported up the dragon’s nostril. Nothing that the dragon could do. I thought he was cheating and went on to read the source book and realised that it broke the rules in spirit only and it was done to differentiate psionics.
Back then I was a much worse DM than I am now. Now I would laugh, clap and congratulate the players on thinking outside of the box. Back then though I was not a fan of the players and that game scarred me and really turned me against psionics as a concept. I do need to work on this as it is (possibly) making me lose out on a lot of interesting material. I needed Cameron to expose it and have it sit for a couple of days while I thought about it. I mean, to ignore a complete portion of a game that exists in imagination is a pretty weird thing to do. And all because of that horrid experience that I once had with a group of good friends just trying to have some fun and kill some time.
So what I am trying to say here is to make sure you are a fan of the players. To realise that you are a GM and not just a narrator. The players will often give you a surprise but that is why I play now. i love to see the craziness that occurs and learn what the story is going to be. Back when I was a twenty year old it was much more about the story I wanted to tell as opposed to the story that was told. I am not going to say that this has cured my distaste of psionics. It is still a knee jerk reaction but it has made me aware of that, and if I am aware of it, I can fight it. Keep rolling.