Sunday, May 17, 2020

Lost Classes: Reconstructing the OD&D Mystic

When I learned that psionics in Eldritch Wizardry were partly based upon the abilities of a new character class, devised by Steve Marsh, I needed to know more:

The Mystic
:
I can answer questions about the "real" mystic. The real mystic had all the psionic powers, but no psionic attacks (the attacks and defenses were to go with another class). They gained powers or abilities as they went up levels (much like magic users gain spells) and they started out with a bare handed attack that emulated different weapons for "to hit" modifiers and damage and then was like a sword, with plusses. When eldritch wizardry came up short of material, I'm told that "they" decided to just chop up the character class and make it into another set of powers characters could have instead of a separate class. But, you can easily read between the lines to see the entire character class based on vedic yogis. Sat Gurus, etc. (a complete name table that was authentic, even).  The character had plane traveling skills and abilities intended to mesh with the plane concepts I had.
Steve Marsh, here

The new class predated Origins I (July, 1975) where, among the various ways to destroy the Lich's skull in the Tomb of Horrors, we are told "A Mystic can destroy by mind battle (Mental power rating of the skull is 18)." (although this sounds more like the Divine).

We get a fairly good idea of the kinds of powers Marsh's mystic class possessed, taking a look at the psionic abilities tables in Eldritch Wizardry:


PSIONIC ABILITIES (Addition)

Fighting Men (Including Paladins and Rangers) & Thieves (Including Assassins)

BASIC ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Reduction (none) - similar to the effects of a potion of diminution
  2. Expansion (special) - similar to the 1st level magic-user spell "enlargement"
  3. Levitation (1/turn) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  4. Domination (special)
  5. Mind over Body (none)
  6. Invisibility (2/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell
  7. Precognition (special)
  8. Suspend Animation (none)
  9. Body Equilibrium (1/turn)
  10. Clairaudience (2/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell
  11. Clairvoyance (2/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell
  12. Body Weaponry (none) - referenced by Marsh in the passage quoted, above
SUPERIOR ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Energy Control (special)
  2. Telekinesis (3/turn) - similar to the 5th level magic-user spell
  3. Dimension Walking (special) - similar to the 5th level magic-user spell "teleport"
  4. Astral Projection (special) - similar to the 9th level magic-user "astral" spell
  5. Molecular Rearrangement (special)
  6. Molecular Manipulation (50)
  7. Body Control (5/turn)
  8. Mind Bar (none)

Magic-Users (Including Illusionists)

BASIC ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Detection of Evil/Good (none) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  2. Detection of Magic (1/turn) - similar to the 1st level magic-user spell
  3. ESP (1/turn) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  4. Hypnosis (special) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell "suggestion"
  5. Levitation (1/turn) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  6. Clairaudience (1/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell
  7. Clairvoyance (l/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell
  8. Reduction (none) - similar to the effects of a potion of diminution
  9. Expansion (special) - similar to the 1st level magic-user spell "enlargement"
  10. Molecular Agitation (2/turn)
SUPERIOR ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Telepathic Projection (3/turn) - similar to the effects of a helm of telepathy
  2. Precognition (special)
  3. Dimension Door (10) - identical to the 4th level magic-user spell
  4. Telekinesis (3/turn) - similar to the 5th level magic-user spell
  5. Teleportation (20) - identical to the 5th level magic-user spell
  6. Astral Projection (special) - similar to the 9th level magic-user "astral" spell
  7. Etherealness (5/turn) - identical to the effects of a potion of etherealness
  8. Shape Alteration (special) - similar to the 4th level magic-user spell "polymorph self"

Clerics (Excluding Monks and Druids)

BASIC ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Detection of Evil/Good (none) - similar to the 1st level cleric spell
  2. Empathy (none)
  3. Levitation (l/turn) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  4. Hypnosis (1/turn) - similar to the 3rd level magic-user spell "suggestion"
  5. Domination (special)
  6. ESP (1/turn) - similar to the 2nd level magic-user spell
  7. Cell Adjustment (special) - similar to the 3rd level cleric spell "cure disease"
  8. Mind over Body (none)
  9. Body Equilibrium (1/turn)
  10. Animal Telepathy (2/turn) - similar to "speak with animals (2nd level)/plants (4th level)"
SUPERIOR ABILITIES (cost per usage)
  1. Molecular Rearrangement (5/turn)
  2. Aura Alteration (special) - similar to the 3rd level cleric spell "remove curse"
  3. Precognition (special)
  4. Telempathic Projection (3/turn)
  5. Dimension Walking (special)
  6. Astral Projection (special)
  7. Mass Domination (special)
  8. Probability Travel (special)

In retrospect, I think that a new character class, based on vedic yogis, would have been interesting to see, so I took a stab at reconstructing the class.


Illustration from OD&D vol. 1, Men & Magic


The OD&D Mystic:

Player-characters with unmodified scores of 15 or more in their intelligence, wisdom, or charisma may elect to check their psionic ability (become mystics).

Fighting-men (Mystics) with psionic ability are basically attuned to the powers commonly known here as Yoga.  There are 20 possible "devotions" they may be able to perform (the 18 Siddhis and the 2 Sciences) if they follow the course of developing their mental prowess.

(I'm not sure what Marsh means by "devotions" or "the 2 Sciences", but regarding the 18 Siddhis, I found this document helpful):

Eight Primary Siddhis:
  1. Anima-siddhi "becoming smaller than the smallest" (Reduction)
  2. Mahima-siddhi "becoming greater than the greatest" (Expansion)
  3. Laghima-siddhi "becoming lighter than the lightest" (Levitation)
  4. Prapti-siddhi "one can acquire anything from anywhere and can even touch the moon with one's finger - one can also enter into the senses of any other living entity" (Empathy, Telempathic Projection)
  5. Prakamya-siddhi "obtaining or performing whatever one desires" (Detection of Magic, Invisibility, Aura Alteration, Telekinesis, Body Weaponry)
  6. Isita-siddhi "one can manipulate the subpotencies of maya, which are material" (Molecular Agitation, Molecular Rearrangement, Molecular Manipulation)
  7. Vasita-siddhi "the power to bring others under control" (Domination, Mass Domination)
  8. Garima-siddhi "the ability to become heavy" (Body Equilibrium)
Ten Secondary Siddhis:
  1. Anurmi-mattvam "being undisturbed by hunger, thirst, etc." (Mind over Body, Suspend Animation)
  2. Dura-sravanam "hearing things far away" (Clairaudience)
  3. Dura-darsanam "seeing things far away" (Clairvoyance)
  4. Mano-javah "moving the body at the speed of the mind" (Dimension Door, Dimension Walking, Teleportation, Etherealness, Astral Projection, Probability Travel)
  5. Kama-rupam "assuming any body that one desires" (Shape Alteration)
  6. Para-kaya-pravesanam "entering the bodies of others"
  7. Svacchanda-mrtyuh "dying when one desires" (Cell Adjustment)
  8. Devanam saha-kridanudarsanam "witnessing the pastimes between the demigods..."
  9. Yatha-sankalpa-samsiddhih "completely executing one's determination"
  10. Ajnapratihata gatih "giving orders whose fulfillment is unimpeded" (Hypnosis)
Five Lesser Siddhis:
  1. Tri-kala-jnatvam "the perfection of knowing past, present and future" (Precognition)
  2. Advandvam "being unaffected by dualities such as heat and cold" (Body Control)
  3. Para-cittady-abhijnata "knowing the minds of others" (Detection of Evil/Good, ESP, Animal Telepathy)
  4. Agny-arkambu-visadinam pratistambhah "checking the influence of fire, sun, water, poison, and so on" (Energy Control)
  5. Aparajaya "not being conquered by others" (Mind Bar)

It would probably make sense to use the monk from the Blackmoor supplement as the basis for an OD&D mystic.  Now all that's needed is to just get some feedback, and write it up.*

*I'm aware of PX1 Basic Psionics Handbook by Richard J. LeBlanc, Jr. (New Big Dragon Games Unlimited, 2015) for B/X and Labyrinth Lord, and the 5e mystic (March, 2017) reworked by Wizards of the Coast.  I'm aiming for OD&D/Holmes.

2 comments:

  1. Given how "they started out with a bare handed attack that emulated different weapons for "to hit" modifiers and damage and then was like a sword, with plusses", Body Weaponry was probably a basic starting class feature.

    The explanations for the "devotions" might lie in whatever source material/research was used, if I'd have to guess, but I honestly wouldn't even know where to begin.

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    Replies
    1. I agree that Body Weaponry must have been a core feature, which would give the Blackmoor monk a run for its money.

      I hunted around for some popular books on yoga, published in the late 1960s/early 1970s, but couldn't find any that seemed likely to be one of the sources that Steve used. I'm betting it will surface, one day, however!

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