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Athasian Magic and Psionics are Related

The Psionics Handbook outlines two alternate mechanics for dealing with the interaction of Magic and Psionic. The first option treats psionics as a type of magic, so that magical and psionic effects are equally affected by all spells and powers. The second option treats psionics as something so different than magic, that affecting magic and psionics requires different skills, feats, spells and powers.

Obviously, for the Dark Sun purist, neither solution is satisfactory, since the point of separating magic and psionics is to keep continuity with the original Dark Sun story. Casting a spell and manifesting a power of the way should feep different within the game. And yet the most powerful creatures on Athas combine spellcasting with psionics.

If you are a third Edition purist, and like your rules simple, hard, and fast, then skip the rest of this article go with the Psionics Handbook’s first option. If you are a Dark Sun purist, please consider our variant rule: “Psionics is Related to Magic.”

Psionics is Related to Magic

On Athas, psionics rather than magic is the norm, and the practice of psionics predates Rajaat’s discovery of arcane magic. Clearly psionics is not a form of magic, but the story behind the epic power of Dark Sun’s Dragons is rooted in the concept that magic and psionics are both different aspects of the same greater power. Thus, while psionics is not a type of magic, it is related to magic, and the relation becomes more visible in the mightiest spells and powers.

In game terms, here is what this means:

The 0-level divinatory spell detect psionics can be cast in an alternate, detect magic form. The caster makes this choice at casting time, just as with the alternate forms of fire shield or otiluke’s freezing sphere. Likewise, the psionic power detect psionics can be manifested in an alternate detect magic form. If the spell or power is cast in the detect magic form, then it does not detect psionics, and vice-versa.

Dispel magic and negate psionics have the same relationship. The 3rd level spell dispel magic can be cast in an alternate, dispel psionics form. The 3rd level power negate psionics can be cast in an alternate, negate magic form. All psionic powers that have an obvious magical spell counterpart function this way: spell turning and power Turning, etc.

The same applies to those psionic powers and magical spells that do not have an obvious counterpart, but that could be easily applied to spells as well as psionics. Spells and powers that affect spell levels specifically or that specifically affect power points (and thus cannot easily be converted), simply work as described. For example, catapsi affects psionics only, and does not affect magical spells. Unless specified differently in the item, spell, or monster description, any creature with a spell resistance has an equal psionic resistance. With skills and feats, a little common sense goes a long way. "Combat Spellcasting" and "Combat Manifestation" are obviously interchangeable, since both of them involve maintaining power over supernatural abilities despite distraction. Knowledge (Arcana) and Knowledge (Psionics) are obviously different skills, since the Dark Sun story requires us to recognize that one could be an expert in arcane magic while knowing nothing about psionics, and vice versa. The same principle distinguishes Psiscraft from Spellcraft. But there's nothing in the Dark Sun story that requires us to separate “Use Magic Device” and “Use Psionic Device.”