In the expanded Pathfinder gaming environment, a lot of GMs are being faced with a conceptual issue with the introduction of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Occult Adventures rules expansion into groups that already use Dreamscarred Press‘ Psionics Unleashed rules system as that the two systems have a degree of overlap in the mental real estate of the game system.
Anyone familiar with us knows that as advocates of permissive games and opening gaming in general, so our stance of “Why not both?” is not going to be a surprise. But our passion for both Dreamscarred’s original presentation (and its roots in the ancestral system) and the new system introduced in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Occult Adventures wants to go a bit further than just screaming “Allow It All!” and thumping our dice bags like gavels.
Lore: Aether and Ether
Ahnula regarded the plinth and triple checked her translations. The symbol was there, so much like her own people’s ancient symbol for the dream river they called Ether. But the crumbling column of rock threw itself in the face of her people’s teachings. A sea of memory, as silver as thought itself was described and named: Aether…
It is possible to explore psychic and psionic phenomena as a simple matter of energetic biases. In this view the balancing nature of both mentalists can be viewed in the context of cosmological powers. The Astral and Ethereal planes have long been affiliated with these supernatures and their expressions. The answers we need may lie in their relative natures.
The Astral plane is often described as the Plane of Thought. It contains conduits and phenomena that lead to the Outer Worlds and realms of the Gods. For our purposes, the Astral can be seen as thought-influenced.
The Ethereal plane is often characterized as a primal soup of post-elemental, proto-reality. It contains pockets of demiplanar matter and dream worlds. Chaos with pure streams of basic power and intentional potentiation. For our purpose, the Ethereal can be seen as thought-influencing.
The energy connection to a mentalist and its power is likely to have been shaped by bias for one of these connective planes. The energy of the being when Astral-active we can think of as Aether and when Ethereal-active can be thought of as Ether.
Application: Energetic Classifications
When viewing psionic and psychic influences in your metaverse, it is quite simple to view the characteristics and derive some clear initial classifications. Parcels of descrete energy shaped the the exact needs of the mentalist are clearly thought-influenced and likely place the majority of psionic characters as Aether-energetics with Astral Planar biases. Astral constructs and a greater ease using telepathic energies seem to further support this hypothetical bias.
Conversely, the parceled nature of spontaneous casting spells that are bubbling masses of defined “proto-power” or the streams of near endless elemental power available to the kinetics of the psychic system seem to mirror thought-influencing Ethereal planar patterns. Add to this the raw phrenic amplifications of dedicated psychics and the dream-like investure of occult relics and even the emotive hypnotism of the mesmerists.
While the broad stroke of psionic/Aether/Astral and psychic/Ether/Ethereal might explain the vast majority mental powers available to you, the possibility of Aether-fueled kineticists or Ether-channeled wilders might also be worth further exploration in your game.
For more of these kinds of delves into the mysticism of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game system, check out our Work-in-Progress for the Book of Beyond and other products at these fine sites: d20pfsrd.com, drivethruRPG, paizo and RPGNow.