Psionics, in its simplest form, is harnessing the power of the mind and using it to perform tasks, feats, and awe-inspiring acts. It is the act of using the mental power innate in a psionic character to perform actions that others deem impossible.
While all characters have the capacity to harness this power of the mind, it is only by tapping into this potential that psionic characters are created. A psionic character has learned to tap into and utilize this internal energy, using it to expand their abilities or even to learn more about themselves. Once a psionic character has learned this pathway of psionics, it often becomes a path they cannot help themselves from further exploring. Like a moth drawn to a flame, so too is the mind drawn to the power of psionics once it has learned to tap into it.
If this is the first time you have been exposed to psionics, below is a brief introduction to how psionic powers work.
A psionic power is a one-time effect, similar to a spell to the uninformed. Unlike spells, which are cast, psionic powers are manifested to achieve their effect. Every psionic character or creature has a daily supply of power points that can be used to manifest psionic powers that the character has unlocked or discovered. There is no limit to the number of times a psionic character can manifest a power, but for the daily power point supply.
A power is manifested when a psionic character pays its power point cost. Some creatures have psi-like abilities, which allow them to automatically manifest powers without having to pay the cost associated.
When we initially started to work on updating the 3.5 psionic ruleset to match the rules of this game, it was because, while the 3.5 ruleset was by and large compatible with this game, those rules were no longer in print and they were hard or expensive to acquire for new players. Further, we recognized that there were aspects of the system that needed to be changed. Powers where errata didn’t make sense, situations where the rules didn’t explain what happened, combinations that could introduce balance concerns.
As we worked to address mechanical items, we recognized that parts of the psionic rules did not follow the same standards that this game did. As we updated classes, feats, skills, and monsters to match the Pathfinder design, we realized that this was far more than a minor update to the 3.5 psionic system; it was a revision deserving of its own complete book.
The innate power of the mind is present within all creatures. But it is those who choose to take levels in psionic classes who can unlock and develop this immense power contained within. This mental energy exists in many forms: Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma are direct links to the conscious mind, but the physical abilities: Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, are also factors. Each of these component pieces is like a single facet of a greater whole.
Psionic characters do not simply tap into the power of the mind, but the power of the mind and the body together. The psionic classes utilize the totality of consciousness to transform thoughts, ideas, and dreams into the real world.
– Jeremy Smith & Andreas Rönnqvist, Dreamscarred Press
Psionics Unleashed. Copyright 2010, Dreamscarred Press.