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Psionics

I have seen many people suggest they don’t use psionics, not because they are a bad thematic fit with their game, but instead as they are hard to understand. Generally speaking I would say that 1e psionics are confusing due to Gygax’s style of explanation and game design. In short,he has an elliptical way of writing and he often leaves out parts of the mechanics for you to fill in.


1e has a lot of “mini-games” imbedded in the larger game, some work, some don’t. The grappling rules are another great example, they are actually pretty easy to use as most of the modifiers are fixed, but when you look at the table it appears quite dense, so most people don’t bother.

The psionics system is actually pretty good when you make a few small adjustments, and it can be flavorful and fun. It’s different than magic, and it involves monsters that often don’t see a lot of action in the game. It’s also relatively system neutral, so it can be easily grafted on to other games.


I will outline the ba…
Described Damage


I use an obscure optional rule in 1e about described damage, essentially the DM has the option to tell the PC’s their HP or not, if you don’t, you are supposed to describe the damage instead.


The point of this is to add some “fuzziness” or uncertainty to the process, so the PC doesn’t know exactly how many HP they have, this mimics the fuzziness of real world combat, where you don’t always know how bad you are hurt. It also keeps combat more uncertain and thus less predictable and boring. It adds possible lingering damage options as well. But it also means the players can have a better idea how badly monsters are damaged, which helps them out.


There are two parts to the system, the first is the described damage, the second is location of hit rules that determine where the hit lands. The purpose of these is to help specify the effect if you are wounded badly. I like the idea of damage having game mechanical effects outside of strict HP loss. 1e eschews this kind of thing…