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Gamerprinter
05-13-2009, 11:28 PM
Rather than further derail the D&D 4e Verdict thread, I thought I'd carry this question to a new thread. My last two posts in the 4e thread discussed this as it regards the D&D game.

One of the arguments on the Gleemax boards regarding the differences between Ki and Psionics. In that Ki is spiritual power, whereas Psionics is mental power. Since in western thought the mind and body is one and inseparable until death, the idea that Ki could be considered the same thing as Pychic power, it shouldn't matter to the game, that's really the same thing.

The flaw in that argument is in the orient, everything has Ki in it. Every rock, plant, sentient, nonsentient, organic and inorganic, even manufactured goods has Ki within it.

Ki is spirit energy, however its the spirit in all things not just the individual.

The belief in Ki (or its other names: qi, chi, prana, etc.) is strongly tied to oriental martial arts, yoga, and other eastern disciplines. It's derived from Taoism/Daoism which has influenced most of the oriental world before Buddhism and other oriental beliefs. Its related to medicinal treatments in pre-modern times (and still practiced today.)

Rocks don't have brains therefore can't be psionic, thus Psionics and Ki has nothing much in common.

Enough of my ranting - any thoughts on this?

GP

Nomadic
05-13-2009, 11:45 PM
I would have to agree. I am taking Ki Aikido so I have begun to truly understand what ki is (as an aside ki and chi are not the same thing). Ki is everything, the energy that connects each thing to every other time. The reason it is used in several martial arts (aikido uses it the most of any art) is because when you are able to extend ki you are aware of not only any opponents but also of yourself. When you can do that you are able to prepare and execute the moves necessary to stop any attacks and turn them back around on your attacker.

Nexis
05-14-2009, 10:14 AM
The problem I have with the use of Ki is as you say it is a concept of the East. The monk and Ki should not have been lumped in with the rest as the game is Europen based. The monk and Ki should have been put in an Oriental supplement book. Then it would have been placed in a better context.

Steel General
05-14-2009, 11:33 AM
OK I'll throw my 2 cents in with my own screwy definition(s) as relates to RPGing;

Psionics - Using the power of thought to affect/manipulate the world around you

Ki/the Force/etc. - Using the innate (spiritual) energy in all things affect/manipulate the world around you.

Not sure there is a correct definition - though you probably could go to a dojo and get the resident master to define Ki/Chi/etc. for you.

msa
05-14-2009, 11:47 AM
The problem I have with the use of Ki is as you say it is a concept of the East.

Bear in mind that I've never cared much for psionics and I'm only passably interested in Ki. With that said, I'm with Nex mostly. I haven't been keen on the monk class in any edition of standard D&D and I think it belongs purely in eastern supplements.

I always saw ki as the ability to focus your mind through meditation to gain control over your body and sense (and to some degree control) the world around you.

Like psionics, the root of the power is in meditation and mental state. So, in that sense, the power source is internal and mental--its not based on physical muscle memory, mastery of arcane rituals, or connection with the divine. Its really all internal and about a state of mind.

Also the manifestion to me appears very similar. Psionics grants you powers over all manner of things that don't have minds. You can open doors, sense nonliving obstacles, start fires, walk on water, redirect energy, remote sense, or other things often associated with ki. Now, psionics lets you do a lot more, but to me it includes most of the 'ki' powers.

To me, the differences between the two are fairly minor. To someone who is really into one or the other, you can split a lot of hairs. I think of the discussion as to whether rocks have ki but not minds as one of them. Does it matter much as far as where the ability comes from or what it lets you do?

As to whether ki and chi are different? Thats sort of like a discussion about whether protestants and catholics are different. If you are really into either of them, you probably think they are completely different. If you aren't, you probably see the differences as minor at best.

Karro
05-14-2009, 12:03 PM
So, my thought on the Ki/Psionic differentiation:

Given that rocks have Ki energy, but no brains, therefore possess ki power but not psychic power, the question that immediately pops in my mind is: can the rock, of it's own will, actually do anything with its ki energy?

Since it has no brain, and therefore no will of its own, the answer, I suspect, is no. This leads me to suspect the difference between an eastern interpretation of ki energy and a western interpretation of psionic energy is mostly academic. Only things that can think can actively use and manipulate ki energy. Only things that can think can actively use and manipulate psionic energy. The effects of the use of the two are frequently similar. What's different is the terminology and the flavoring: one is very eastern and one very western.

Considering that terminology and linguistic usage can often strongly color our perceptions of a thing, it's not surprising that it's not entirely clear whether the two are different or the same.

Midgardsormr
05-14-2009, 12:05 PM
I've been thinking about it a little bit, and it may come down to a matter of that word "source." Ki and psionic power are both internal power—inherent in the practitioner, whose training brings it forth to manifest outside of the body. In a sense, they are both a mystical "self" power. While the two things are quite dissimilar, they're really not much further apart than some of the other variations in 4e power sources.

For instance, both the Warlock and the Wizard utilize the Arcane (literally "hidden, secret") power source, but while the Wizard's power comes from the study of hidden knowledge, the Warlock's comes from a bond with a supernatural force.

Another example would be the Druid and Barbarian. Both are Primal ("basic, essential, first") heroes, but the Druid draws on a symbiotic relationship with nature, while the Barbarian taps his animalistic essence.

I think I might have chosen a different name for the Psionic power source, but I think a case can be made that psionics and ki bear a certain similarity that makes it reasonable to lump them together into a single category. I don't know what name I would pick, though. Maybe simply Internal?

edit: and I see I have cross-posted with two others who have said much the same thing. Great minds think alike, but what's our excuse?

Gamerprinter
05-14-2009, 01:16 PM
You're missing my point here. Ki is in fact only partially internal.

In my mind a PC utilizing Ki energy to power spells and effects is using Ki within himself, his fellow party members, the ground that he stands on and other elements surrounding him. In fact a manifester of Ki could actually draw Ki source from an opponent's Ki, especially if the opponent is not a Ki manifester.

Psionics is individual only. Ki is everywhere.

While manufactured goods contain Ki for instance, it is much less so than an natural rock, tree, stream or animal. When in a city environment, though Ki is present (especially in people), but weaker as the Ki in manufactured goods is weaker.

If both Ki and Psionics were internal to oneself only - I'd say you're right, the difference is only semantic. However, I know that Ki is everywhere, thus a Ki class is accessing power from everything around him, including himself.

To me, that's a huge difference. And I enforce that difference in my Kaidan Japan-based setting.

@Karro, while it may seem silly to us, in the orient, that rock with Ki in it that is just sitting there is actually doing something - its sitting there absorbing the energy at that location. It is not inert, and is as much alive as we are. Just that rocks don't move - which is part of its "life cycle."

GP

PS: except that Ki is also internal, I think it would be a better argument that Ki and Primal was the same thing - much truer than Ki and Psionics.

msa
05-14-2009, 02:09 PM
You're missing my point here. Ki is in fact only partially internal.

I think the point we are all making is that the mechanics end up being pretty much the same. Ki and Psionics users both manifest their ability through inner focus and meditation. They both use their power to augment their own strength, sense the world around them, and create and wield latent energy. So the difference is mostly flavor.

The truth is, I always just assumed psionics were rules for an eastern style of power anyways. The whole concept is just not well defined in western mythology, where humans largely petition external sources for power. I just thought psionics were a fantasy version of the force... eastern-inspired mystical power.

Now I'm not saying this isn't a valid or interesting avenue to explore in your game or your work. I just think that, to us uninitiated, the difference between the two is pretty marginal. If you want them to be different, it might be interesting to have ki work worse in cities or have slightly different effects. But I also think you could just reflavor 'psionics' to 'ki' a bit and very little would be lost.

NeonKnight
05-14-2009, 02:37 PM
Yeah, put me down as another person who disliked Monks in D&D (too much like Xena Warrior Princess for me :P)

Now, that wasn't to say I didn't have them. I had an oriental area in my old world, but they were not common place, and certainly no-one campaigning in my World's Physical location of Jolly Ol' England would not walk around a corner and find a fist full of monks waiting for them.

But I do agree with the concept of Ki (chi, or however), being different from Psionics

Valarian
05-14-2009, 02:38 PM
Given that rocks have Ki energy, but no brains, therefore possess ki power but not psychic power, the question that immediately pops in my mind is: can the rock, of it's own will, actually do anything with its ki energy?

@Karro, while it may seem silly to us, in the orient, that rock with Ki in it that is just sitting there is actually doing something - its sitting there absorbing the energy at that location. It is not inert, and is as much alive as we are. Just that rocks don't move - which is part of its "life cycle."
I was going to throw in a similar point. As an animist, I find the discussion interesting, even without the reference to D&D4e. From an animist's point of view, all living things (which include natural things such as rocks, mountains, etc.) contain a soul (life-force / anima) - which seems to be very similar to the concept of the Ki.

Gamerprinter
05-14-2009, 02:40 PM
Much of this talk is academic. I am as much speaking of the concept of Ki outside the game, as it is a part of it.

In Japan, those manufactured good that have an intended short life span, such as a folding fan or a pair of straw sandles, as opposed to furniture, a house or a ship - can come alive, after a century of continued survival.

Theres a story of an old man that bought a pair of straw sandles. Under normal use, depending on how much walking he does, a pair of straw sandles can last a week or a few months. The old man died shortly after buying them, and for some reason the sandles got buried in the closet so to speak, and disappeared. A century later, the great grandson of the old man, found the pair of sandles and they moved and danced around.

So although taking a much longer period of time, that inert rock could become animated through the power of Ki. So all things have Ki and are alive, just not the same as normal living things.

The rock doesn't require a brain or other proof of animal/plant life, yet not only does it store Ki, Ki can give the rock supernatural life aspects.

I know this doesn't matter to the game, but further as differences to what Ki really is.

GP

Nomadic
05-14-2009, 02:47 PM
As to whether ki and chi are different? Thats sort of like a discussion about whether protestants and catholics are different. If you are really into either of them, you probably think they are completely different. If you aren't, you probably see the differences as minor at best.

Just because someone unaware of what ki and chi actually are thinks they are a very similar thing does not make them a very similar thing. Basing definitions of things on something someone who doesn't know the definition says sounds a bit silly.

Roughly speaking Ki is the connection everything has with everything else. It has nothing to do with whether something is natural or not. Everything has ki, nothing has it more than anything else. It is an energy of sorts but not what most think of when you say energy. It is more an energy of extension or awareness.

Chi is connected to the elements. Fire, Water, Wood, Earth, and Metal. It deals with the flow of energy within the body and between the body and everything else and how to use the flow of energy in regards to those elements.

The only thing that the two concepts have in common is that when you use them they allow for a meditative state of mind. Even that though is different. Ki meditation is more about awareness and acknowledgment of everything which makes it good for martial arts. Chi is about that flow of energy and is more effective at more traditional meditation, the calming of mind and body and release of stress.

The More You Know :P

Anyhow Chi is very spiritual and could make for an interesting background to a character. A cleric in the form of an eastern religious monk would be cool. Ki i good for the monk in the concept of a martial fighter. And yes I think the monk should have been an oriental supplement.

msa
05-14-2009, 02:51 PM
I am as much speaking of the concept of Ki outside the game, as it is a part of it.

Ah. Well, outside the game I am sure there is some difference that believers see. As a universal non-believer, I have nothing to contribute. Chi vs. Ki. Catholic vs. Protestant. Mayayana vs. Pure Land. Zen vs. Chan. They all look the same to me ;)

msa
05-14-2009, 02:59 PM
Just because someone unaware of what ki and chi actually are thinks they are a very similar thing does not make them a very similar thing. Basing definitions of things on something someone who doesn't know the definition says sounds a bit silly.

Roughly speaking Ki is the connection everything has with everything else. It has nothing to do with whether something is natural or not. Everything has ki, nothing has it more than anything else. It is an energy of sorts but not what most think of when you say energy. It is more an energy of extension or awareness.

Chi is connected to the elements. Fire, Water, Wood, Earth, and Metal. It deals with the flow of energy within the body and between the body and everything else and how to use the flow of energy in regards to those elements.

Well, I have an academic understanding of both, as well as a lot of other details about various religions and philosophies. Its just, as a non believer, these differences seem minor at best.

Like... your descriptions? Very little difference between the two. Its like if you tried to explain to me how very different believing in the holy trinity is vs. believing in god. I just have to take your word for it... looks like apples and apples to me.

Nexis
05-14-2009, 03:08 PM
So if I have this straight in my head.
Psy- The person, specificaly the brain, is a reactor. It generates the energy that the person then manipulates and uses.
Ki- The person is a capasiter. Absorbing the (potential) energy in all things and manipulates that to his own ends.
So Ki is a realisation and sencitivity to the living force of the world (Gia) and learned to channel that force spiritualy. While, say, a wizard does the same thing but using more brute force means to rip the energy from the living world.
There is definatly an interesting idea in here to use Ki and Psy in the game while not needing the eastern flavor.
Say isn't that like a Druid? Using the life force of plants to power themselves?

Karro
05-14-2009, 03:16 PM
You're missing my point here. Ki is in fact only partially internal.
Psionics is individual only. Ki is everywhere.

@Karro, while it may seem silly to us, in the orient, that rock with Ki in it that is just sitting there is actually doing something - its sitting there absorbing the energy at that location. It is not inert, and is as much alive as we are. Just that rocks don't move - which is part of its "life cycle."

GP

PS: except that Ki is also internal, I think it would be a better argument that Ki and Primal was the same thing - much truer than Ki and Psionics.

I think you're touching on part of why I, personally, find your argument not completely convincing, rendering this a semantic debate. I'll allow that the association of degree of "naturalness" of an object may render it more or less powerful or inert with regards to ki, which from a certain outlook is vastly different from a typical understanding of psionics.

But where I think you're wrong is the assertion that psionics is only internal. Because psionics involves doing something external to the body without the physical effort of the body itself, this implies, to me, that the "mental exertion", per se, is being performed through some medium. Since the results of that exertion are external to the psionic user, the medium, by necessity, is also external. I suggest this is the case because if the power were only internal, then the psionicist would only be able to affect things internally (i.e. self-heal, increase in strength, etc) but not affect things externally except through the medium of his own body. To me, the fact that the power can be applied externally implies that the power has an external component. In the case of psionics, the means of activation, of accessing this external medium, is internal via the mind, but the power still manifests externally.

The question then arises: what is this medium by which a psionic user is able to exert his/her mental influence on the world outside him/herself? If that medium were the omnipresent will of a diety, we would call the power "divine". If that medium was some strange and unseen mystical energy derived from the resonnance from elemental material planes (or whatever your preferred explanation for the source of magic in D&D) then we'd call it "arcane" power. Both Ki and Psionics seems to be something else... something that is invisible and exists within the world and is manipulable through conscious application of effort. Are these energies the same? Who can tell? They're both invisible and omnipresent and cannot be detected through any of the normal sensory means.

Another way I have of looking at it is that psionics is a codification of so-called "ESP" and parapsychology. The connection, again, is that if we're "perceiving" something with non-standard senses, then there is something there to be perceived with non-standard senses, or that all things have a quality that lies beyond the physical characteristics we are normally aware of (size, color, shape, mass, sound, texture, etc. etc.)

To your point, however, given the connection between ki and the natural world, and the degree to which ki is influenced by something natural, inherent, and primal I think you can build a strong case that ki is, in fact, a part of this "natural" or "primal" category of power forces.

At the end of the day, I am neither for nor against "ki" as a source of energy being classifed with or without "psionics". To me, the difference is primarily one of flavor and fluff for the game. Especially since all powers mechanically work the same, apparently, in 4e. So if the flavor and fluff don't suit you, then I agree that's a valid reason for you to eschew 4e. My only point here is to demonstrate, probably redundantly, that you can argue that they are the same thing. I even thought up a story once where they effectively were the same thing. A setting or story where they are totally different and work in completely different ways is also conceivable. That's why I think it's a semantic question: it's all about how you think about it.

Nomadic
05-14-2009, 03:16 PM
Well, I have an academic understanding of both, as well as a lot of other details about various religions and philosophies. Its just, as a non believer, these differences seem minor at best.

Like... your descriptions? Very little difference between the two. Its like if you tried to explain to me how very different believing in the holy trinity is vs. believing in god. I just have to take your word for it... looks like apples and apples to me.

If you think that it is similar to the difference between Christianity and Catholicism then there is nothing I can say except that ignorance of the difference doesn't mean there isn't a quite large one. As an aside I am not a "believer" in Ki. Ki isn't religious, so being a follower of it would be like being a follower of physics. It isn't a faith but something that does exist. It's just a matter of putting it to use. You can see it as a state of mind existing anytime you watch an Aikido master throw someone. Without that state of mind what they did would be impossible. There seems to be a blending in western culture between chi and ki when they are quite different. To put it as simple as possible, ki is practical extension, chi is spiritual meditation.

msa
05-14-2009, 03:40 PM
If you think that it is similar to the difference between Christianity and Catholicism then there is nothing I can say except that ignorance of the difference doesn't mean there isn't a quite large one. As an aside I am not a "believer" in Ki. Ki isn't religious, so being a follower of it would be like being a follower of physics. It isn't a faith but something that does exist. It's just a matter of putting it to use. You can see it as a state of mind existing anytime you watch an Aikido master throw someone. Without that state of mind what they did would be impossible. There seems to be a blending in western culture between chi and ki when they are quite different. To put it as simple as possible, ki is practical extension, chi is spiritual meditation.

Be careful suggesting I am ignorant. I suspect I have thought about these issues a good bit more than you seem to realize.

Karro
05-14-2009, 03:49 PM
If you think that it is similar to the difference between Christianity and Catholicism then there is nothing I can say except that ignorance of the difference doesn't mean there isn't a quite large one. As an aside I am not a "believer" in Ki. Ki isn't religious, so being a follower of it would be like being a follower of physics. It isn't a faith but something that does exist. It's just a matter of putting it to use. You can see it as a state of mind existing anytime you watch an Aikido master throw someone. Without that state of mind what they did would be impossible. There seems to be a blending in western culture between chi and ki when they are quite different. To put it as simple as possible, ki is practical extension, chi is spiritual meditation.

I'm rather with MSA on this one. To the unitiated there certainly appears to be little difference, when viewed from the outside.

The assertion that one cannot be a "believer" or "disbeliever" in Ki or chi or anything of that sort, for that matter, also appears falacious to me. While I am not a "universal non-believer" like MSA (i.e. I follow a specific religious faith), I have an understanding of the fact that if something cannot be seen, felt, touched, tasted or heard in the normal senses, whether the thing really exists or not, is real or not, to the individual the existence of the thing remains a matter of faith. "Faith" or belief in Physics, for example, seems absurd because we can demonstrably prove the things physics tells us through scientific experimentation. "Faith" or belief in god is not absurd, because without faith we cannot demonstrably prove god's existence. "Faith" or belief in heaven or hell is not absurd because we cannot demonstrably prove they exist (and one does not "follow" heaven or hell, they simply exist: one either goes to one or the other after death based on certain universal and natural laws; I don't say this as an assertion of my personal faith, per se, but as a point of comparison to your assertion on ki). Now maybe I'm just uneducated, but to me it appears ki/chi/etc. are the same as god, heaven, hell, etc. in that regard, as I am unaware of any means to scientifically and unequivocably prove the existence of ki. You can say that it exists, and I respect that, but whether or not it truly does exist, saying so doesn't make it so (in other words, I'm not saying ki doesn't exist, but I have no evidence for its existence besides your word). To me, that makes it a matter of faith.

To get back on topic then, I think where the major difference of opinion lies is in applying real-world ideas, beliefs, faiths, and assertions to a fantastic world. In the real world our perception of our beliefs and ideas tends to be more nuanced and particular. But I don't think it appropriate to bring many of these real-world faiths into the game world. My thoughts and ideas about the nature of god, for instance, are nothing like the way gods are portrayed in fantasy worlds. But I don't get hung up on the differing interpretations of gods and divinities between my personal, real-world beliefs and how they are portrayed in game-worlds. You can say in the game that all gods are flying spaghetti monsters, and it wouldn't bother me too much since that portrayal simply doesn't impact my real-world beliefs.

Gamerprinter
05-14-2009, 10:04 PM
At NK primarily, one way I had brought the "East" into a standard western Europe styled campaign setting, was to have a large city with a China Town located within it as immigrants from the East settled into this large urban sprawl.

It was great way to bring ninja, monks, samurai and other eastern flavored classes into a "normal" D&D world, without forcing the party to travel East to see it. I know in some senses this reflects a more modern setting, however, think of Baghdad of pre-medieval period with many other cultures having followed the trade routes including: Chinese, Jews, Africans, Russians, Mongols.

Its really not that hard to imagine Eastern classes in a standard D&D world, if you look at that example.

GP

Nomadic
05-15-2009, 04:20 AM
MSA lighten up, I wasn't insulting you. Based on your replies I simply am deducing that you don't have the viewpoint of the two forms that I do. Ignorance of a subject isn't stupidity, just lack of insight into that subject. For example I am ignorant of tailoring but that doesn't mean I am an idiot.

Karro, reread what I said. You can't be a believer in ki in the same sense that you can be a believer in god. Ki isn't religious. Anyhow, don't run down the everything is faith path because I know that one well :P

EldritchNumen
05-15-2009, 04:52 AM
I've been reading this thread with interest, and don't have anything to directly add to the conversations in play.

I do think, however, that it is worth noticing an interesting parallel. Like the word "spirit" (from the Latin spiritus, meaning "breath"), the word chi (ki, etc., also meaning "breath" is an variety of Oriental languages, stemming from the Chinese) has a pretty wide range of meanings. Ask any native English speaker what spirit is, and you're likely to get an extremely wide range of answers. Certain traditions (scientific, religious, philosophical, philological, and so forth) will have different answers, of course. But many people will have a vague idea that it exists, but not be able to effectively articulate exactly what it is, when pressed.

Chi, even in an Oriental context, is like this. Various groups and even individuals define it differently, and agreement comes only in wide strokes. So, a certain martial tradition might make a distinction between chi and ki like some have suggested, while others might maintain that they are the same thing. (As an aside, the two are simply different Romanizations of the same root word from various Oriental languages; semantically, they are virtually indistinguishable.)

What is the point of this? This: the power source "ki" refers to a very general sort of power (others have made this point).

Pretend, for example, that there was a power source called "spirit." Some might (convincingly and rightly) argue that spirit is essentially mental, and thus overlaps with psionic power, which is also essentially mental; on the other hand, one might (also convincingly and rightly) argue that spirit is essentially rooted in a precognitive and intuitive relationship with the world, and thus deserves its own separate category; one might even (convincingly and rightly) argue that spirit is synonymous with natural, or divine, or even martial power sources, depending upon one's conception of what spirit itself is.

So, I agree with the suggestions regarding semantic usage: take ki and make it mean whatever you want it too in your game. I suspect that none of us would, when pressed, agree as to what divine, arcane, or even martial power sources are! (Does martial power come from disciplined training, as for the fighter? An uncanny physical grace, as for rogues? A thorough grasp of tactics and unyielding determination, as for a warlord [and doesn't that sound more mental than physical]? Even our assumption that martial power arises from physical prowess is challenged by the core books).

We know that ki is oriental, mysterious, and a source of energy that can transform the world. It is accessed through some combination of mental and physical cultivation or training. That's enough; take it and make it something that adds to your story and to your world. (If we look closely enough, this is what we do every day with our own lives anyway). :)

msa
05-15-2009, 10:06 AM
@Karro: Nicely said.

@EN: That was a very important and well-made point

@Nomad: Sorry I got grumpy. I'm trying not to troll. But you assumed wrong, and it was offensive.

A decade ago, when I was your age, I had studied aikido for three years, I was lucky to have taken the mat with 2 of the Oosensei's students, I had 6 years of japanese language (my high school offered it o.O), and I was 3 years out of a heavy Taoism + meditation phase. That said, I wasn't drinking the koolaid nearly as deeply as you, but its unlikely that you have much more experience with eastern culture and mysticism than I had. Then. A decade ago.

I would suggest that you open yourself up to the possibility that my attitude is a result of wisdom and experience and not ignorance. The difference between ki and chi, if there is one (EN's point is very good and you should read it carefully), is marginal at best. And... it is a belief. It is not any more measurable and verifiable than, say, the power of prayer. This is not meant disparaging, btw... they are both lovely things if you can believe in them, and faith is a noble thing. But you've got to call a spade a spade.

RPMiller
05-15-2009, 10:29 AM
As a practitioner of Tai Chi Chuan (note the word Chi in the name) I am as intimate with Chi as Nomadic is with Ki. I can tell you a good amount about Chi. As someone whose best friend practiced Aikido I can also tell you about Ki. Before I do, I have two items to address:

1. Some of the above comments are getting a little heated. I suggest that those of you that are taking things personally should step away from this thread and cool off a little. If the posts continue to get heated I will lock this thread and talk to the offenders. (Note the D&D thread to understand the seriousness.) More on this later.

2. Nomadic, where are you getting your information on Chi? I am assuming that it is coming from your Aikido teacher, is that assumption correct? I am curious to get the answer before I move on.

Karro
05-15-2009, 10:49 AM
Karro, reread what I said. You can't be a believer in ki in the same sense that you can be a believer in god. Ki isn't religious. Anyhow, don't run down the everything is faith path because I know that one well :P

I don't think I "ran down the everything is faith path", as I specifically tried to set up a dichotomy of that which is provable or understandable through non-faith-based measures versus that which can only be understood through faith-based measures. This might be something of a continuum between the two, but largely I find things either to be in the one category or the other. But to put the point in a way that takes "god" out of the equation, let's compare "ki" to a human "spirit". Let's assume no one worships this "spirit" in a divine sense (probably not exactly true, but for the sake of argument, let's simplify this and ignore that circumstance). Now, can you touch or taste or otherwise prove the existence of the spirit? No; but you can be a believer in spirit. You can believe it exists, or you can believe it does not exist. What evidence supports this belief? Faith is one primary support for this belief. Based on this presupposed faith and understanding of it, you are then open to the possibility of experiencing it in a more physical way, but without this faith-based understanding you will not be able to do so. Now, can you touch or taste or otherwise prove the existence of ki? No; but you can be a believer in ki. You can believe it exists, or you can believe it does not exist. Some of us who are not adherents to an eastern philosophical system do not believe in the existence of ki. Why? Either because (a) it has not been proven to exist or (b) we do not have a faith in it or a cultural perception that presupposes the existence of it. Of course, this is not proof either of the non-existence nor of the existence of it. For those who do believe in ki, I would suspect that as with the spirit, they are open to and able to experience something that attests to them of its existence. For those of us who have no such understanding, we cannot. That, I think, is the essence of faith.

So, I'm trying not to be offensive in anyone's belief systems. As I said, I have my own belief system to which I adhere, and I believe strongly that the tenets of that system are true and real. But I also recognize that most of those tenets are not verifiable in a scientific or physical way, and only understandable through an alternate means of experience. I recognize that other people are equally as convinced that their belief systems are true, and like I said, I respect that. I don't adhere to their belief systems, but I respect that they believe in them, and I don't mean to suggest that their belief systems are not true or real. I'm just trying to demonstrate a parallel in the means by which we come to understand and believe in our various belief systems, regardless of the differences between those systems, and how that belief informs our ability to experience and test our beliefs. As an aside to this, though, now that I think of it, one possible hang-up is the fact that "faith" or "belief" as I've outlined it is probably mostly a western concept. To a practioner or adherent of eastern-based philosophies, it might seem inappropriate to apply a western concept. Which goes back to the "semantic debate" point: that we're understanding these things based on different cultural and linguistic mindframes that do not have a complete overlap.


I've been reading this thread with interest, and don't have anything to directly add to the conversations in play.

We know that ki is oriental, mysterious, and a source of energy that can transform the world. It is accessed through some combination of mental and physical cultivation or training. That's enough; take it and make it something that adds to your story and to your world. (If we look closely enough, this is what we do every day with our own lives anyway). :)


I think you added very well to the conversation. That was really my point at first, but I think you put it in a way that was quite eloquent! Particularly if we remove ourselves from our real-world outlook on these things, it becomes even easier to decide what outlook we would find most interesting within the context of a fictional world. I figured that was the point of the thread in the first place, was in comparing ki and psionic powers in a fictional context. So at the end of the day, I think we should divorce the concept of "ki" and "psionic powers" in a fictional sense from our preconceived notions of what those are in a real-world sense.

RP: my apologies if I acted overheated, myself. I hope my thoughts aren't offensive to you, as a practioner of Tai Chi, as it is certainly not my intent to be offensive. Out of curiosity, what is your understaning of chi versus ki, if that's not too far off the topic of this thread?

msa
05-15-2009, 12:26 PM
As to whether ki and chi are different? Thats sort of like a discussion about whether protestants and catholics are different. If you are really into either of them, you probably think they are completely different. If you aren't, you probably see the differences as minor at best.

This was an effort to bow out of any discussion that belongs with believers, and not non-believers like me. And, to be honest, if I hadn't been called ignorant (which I'm afraid is very pejorative), I would have. And I am going to try to bow out for good after this last thought.

The Chinese ideogram (at least... one of three acceptable alternate ideograms) for "chi", or in modern pingyin "qi", is identical to the Japanese ideogram for "ki". It also has a Korean analog "ji". This character is used to refer to the primal energy in aikido, taoism, quigong, and a host of other eastern philosophies and religions. While each philosophy, I'm sure, has a different interpretation of it, its the same character and the same word pretty much universally.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi

Oddly, it is not the same "chi" in "tai chi". "Tai chi" is properly short for "tai chi chuan", which means supreme ultimate fist. "Chi" in this context means "ultimate". While "chi" by itself has little meaning, the term "tai chi" is a term used in taoism and confucisonism to represent the unification of yin and yang. However, many practices of tai chi also refer to and focus on manipulation of "qi", using the same ideogram and meaning above.

All right... Good luck to all of you.

Gamerprinter
05-15-2009, 01:04 PM
For me only, I'm not religious at all. Not to say I'm an athiest, because I'm not, however, I don't treat religion as all that important to me.

When I started this discussion, I hadn't intended it to go down the religious road. At the same time the treatment whether a religion or system of beliefs in game should be taken serious by the characters, or players in a roleplaying sense - not that players should actually belief in this or that. However if the characters don't take these beliefs serious, to me at least, the suspension of disbelief fails and the game is lessened somehow.

One skewed idea of mine is that psionics is science fiction, though I enjoy reading science fiction and have played sci-fi RP games (traveller, space opera) in the past. I don't do so today, and my fellow gamers in our group would never play those games. We like fantasy, because we already live in modern and future is just too close to modern for our tastes.

Perhaps because I separate sci-fi from fantasy as a distinct hardline, I don't want psionics to intrude in my fantasy game - which is probably at the heart of my dislike at "how much Ki is like Psionics and how it doesn't really matter." And why the decision to drop Ki in 4e and put psionics in its place, is so hard for me to deal with.

For me it does matter. Keep the force of Star Wars away from my elves and samurai. I don't play Star Wars RPG and don't want to bring its baggage into my fantasy game.

As a DM, I've never allowed psionics to even come in play. When a player asks for a psionics character, I say "no, I don't allow it. There is no such thing as psionics in my worlds." (My mind flayers are mind flayers and not Illithidae.)

I'm sorry that the discussion has become so serious and heated.

GP

Steel General
05-15-2009, 01:45 PM
[temporay discussion suspension]

Nothing wrong with a serious discussion, as long as it doesn't get 'heated', spiteful, etc.

msa apologized for his reaction to being termed 'ignorant' and I think that's as far as that needs to be taken.

[resume discussion]

msa
05-15-2009, 01:51 PM
msa apologized for his reaction to being termed 'ignorant' and I think that's as far as that needs to be taken.

Was I bad? I thought I behaved myself. Oh bother...

Steel General
05-15-2009, 01:54 PM
Was I bad? I thought I behaved myself. Oh bother...

Sorry, didn't mean to sound like I was singling you out. Though the discussion did get a bit "warm" there for a few posts. :)

msa
05-15-2009, 02:01 PM
Sorry, didn't mean to sound like I was singling you out. Though the discussion did get a bit "warm" there for a few posts. :)

Ah good :) My trollin' roots run deep. I didn't even know there were civil forums on teh internets before I came here. I'm new to behavin', so I'm not always sure if I'm doing it right.

Nomadic
05-15-2009, 02:03 PM
Nomadic, where are you getting your information on Chi? I am assuming that it is coming from your Aikido teacher, is that assumption correct? I am curious to get the answer before I move on.

Nope, I am getting the information from my sister. She's in massage therapy, primarily eastern massage. Eastern massage therapy uses Chi very heavily. She's also been interested in eastern culture since a very early age so she has been an excellent source of fascinating information on the region.

I get my Ki knowledge from Aikido obviously (Shinshintouitsu Aikido, also known as Ki Aikido for it's primary focus on the Ki aspect of Aikido). From both what my teacher and others have said as well as what I have personally noticed I have come to view Ki as a non-mystical, non-spiritual thing. It can be scientifically measured and tested and it's results even without equipment are pretty obvious (and quite amazing).

Anyhow at MSA, in the interest of maintaining the peace I am not going to read your earlier posts nor fault you for anything. I am sorry if you took what I said the wrong way but I wasn't using ignorant in a derogatory manner nor calling you a moron. There seems to be alot of misconception about what it really means.

ig⋅no⋅rant (/ˈɪgnərənt/)
–adjective
1. lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man.
2. lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact: ignorant of quantum physics.
3. uninformed; unaware.
4. due to or showing lack of knowledge or training: an ignorant statement.

Hopefully now people will understand what I mean when I use that. Anyhow my use of it was based off viewing responses that I felt were incorrect (and slightly offensive as I am a christian and while I respect believers of other religions I would never partake in them myself; that's partly why I got a bit hot around the collar myself). Anyhow again I am sorry for misconceptions and for what happened.

Karro
05-15-2009, 02:06 PM
For me only, I'm not religious at all. Not to say I'm an athiest, because I'm not, however, I don't treat religion as all that important to me.

When I started this discussion, I hadn't intended it to go down the religious road. At the same time the treatment whether a religion or system of beliefs in game should be taken serious by the characters, or players in a roleplaying sense - not that players should actually belief in this or that. However if the characters don't take these beliefs serious, to me at least, the suspension of disbelief fails and the game is lessened somehow.

One skewed idea of mine is that psionics is science fiction, though I enjoy reading science fiction and have played sci-fi RP games (traveller, space opera) in the past. I don't do so today, and my fellow gamers in our group would never play those games. We like fantasy, because we already live in modern and future is just too close to modern for our tastes.

Perhaps because I separate sci-fi from fantasy as a distinct hardline, I don't want psionics to intrude in my fantasy game - which is probably at the heart of my dislike at "how much Ki is like Psionics and how it doesn't really matter." And why the decision to drop Ki in 4e and put psionics in its place, is so hard for me to deal with.

For me it does matter. Keep the force of Star Wars away from my elves and samurai. I don't play Star Wars RPG and don't want to bring its baggage into my fantasy game.

As a DM, I've never allowed psionics to even come in play. When a player asks for a psionics character, I say "no, I don't allow it. There is no such thing as psionics in my worlds." (My mind flayers are mind flayers and not Illithidae.)

I'm sorry that the discussion has become so serious and heated.

GP


Generally, I agree with you. I'm not really a fan of "psionics" in fantasy in the first place, as it seems a little more sci-fi flavored to me, too.

What's funny is I always thought that Star Wars force was a sci-fantasy (not sci-fi) reinterpretation of something like this "ki" concept, and not at all like psionics. Some of the posts above in their description of "ki" seemed to confirm it for me, as I thought "man, that sounds like the Force".

Sorry for beating the religion drum; now it comes to it, I'm not entirely sure why I went down that road. On the other hand, if you consider some kind of ki-force to be a part of the belief system of those people, and then consider that in a fantasy setting people's belief systems and religion have a knack for being real and having some really cool special effects, it does kind of make you stop and think about what the implications of that belief system are in the fantastic context.

msa
05-15-2009, 02:15 PM
What's funny is I always thought that Star Wars force was a sci-fantasy (not sci-fi) reinterpretation of something like this "ki" concept, and not at all like psionics. Some of the posts above in their description of "ki" seemed to confirm it for me, as I thought "man, that sounds like the Force".

Ah. I second the part about the force and ki. I also just thought that psionics was a culture- and brand-neutral word for the same thing. Apparently 'psionics' is a term from sci-fi literature that I wasn't aware of. I'm afraid I don't read much sci-fi or fantasy.

@Nomad: don't use ignorant in polite conversation. Its pejorative. Also, it would probably do you plenty of good to read all the posts in this thread--even mine. Also, I'd love to see a citation on this:


It can be scientifically measured and tested and it's results even without equipment are pretty obvious (and quite amazing).

dormouse
05-15-2009, 02:28 PM
We looked at psionics, asked ourselves 'would it add to the game?', decided not and have never thought about it since.

Since we play 1e, ki never came into the picture. I can see that it might be possible for it to add to the game in an eastern setting - even be necessary to it. No idea if it actually works like that in practice.

Gamerprinter
05-15-2009, 02:28 PM
Another skewed belief of mine is that there are only two kinds of sci-fi.

1. Hard science fiction - like the stuff of Niven, Clarke, and Heinlein. Hard sci-fi uses science and scientific ideas to create the fantastical future elements that drive that kind of story.

2. Pseudo science fiction - like Star Wars, Hubbard, Piers Anthony, and Vonnegut. Pseudo sci-fi uses the tropes of science fiction as flavor to go into philosophical, and otherwise purely fantasy storylines.

I prefer hard sci-fi. I never read pseudo sci-fi. Science Fantasy falls under pseudo science fiction (by my defintaion.) and although a fun movie series to watch, its not something I want to play.

Not that there's anything wrong with either, just a preference for one over the other.

Time travel could be real, psionics could be real, elves aren't real - I prefer elves and dragons, etc.

GP

Karro
05-15-2009, 04:53 PM
Another skewed belief of mine is that there are only two kinds of sci-fi.

GP

I wouldn't say it's skewed, but as a classification system it's definitely not very fine-grained. You know; to each his own, and all that!

(As a general rule, I also prefer fantasy!)

Pilias
05-15-2009, 05:42 PM
Rather than further derail the D&D 4e Verdict thread, I thought I'd carry this question to a new thread. My last two posts in the 4e thread discussed this as it regards the D&D game.

One of the arguments on the Gleemax boards regarding the differences between Ki and Psionics. In that Ki is spiritual power, whereas Psionics is mental power. Since in western thought the mind and body is one and inseparable until death, the idea that Ki could be considered the same thing as Pychic power, it shouldn't matter to the game, that's really the same thing.

The flaw in that argument is in the orient, everything has Ki in it. Every rock, plant, sentient, nonsentient, organic and inorganic, even manufactured goods has Ki within it.

Ki is spirit energy, however its the spirit in all things not just the individual.

The belief in Ki (or its other names: qi, chi, prana, etc.) is strongly tied to oriental martial arts, yoga, and other eastern disciplines. It's derived from Taoism/Daoism which has influenced most of the oriental world before Buddhism and other oriental beliefs. Its related to medicinal treatments in pre-modern times (and still practiced today.)

Rocks don't have brains therefore can't be psionic, thus Psionics and Ki has nothing much in common.

Enough of my ranting - any thoughts on this?

GP

One of the simplest explanations I've heard was the one that Steve Jackson used to explain the difference between Ki/Force and Psionic power. The focus in the difference between the two is less on what you can do with the power and more on the origin of where the power comes from.

Ki is the power from without, and Psionics is the power from within. When using Ki powers to affect other people you are manipulating the Ki around you, when using Ki powers on yourself you're manipulating your own Ki. With Psionics you're using your advanced brain powers to manipulate the world around you.

Nomadic
05-15-2009, 05:44 PM
Another skewed belief of mine is that there are only two kinds of sci-fi.

1. Hard science fiction - like the stuff of Niven, Clarke, and Heinlein. Hard sci-fi uses science and scientific ideas to create the fantastical future elements that drive that kind of story.

2. Pseudo science fiction - like Star Wars, Hubbard, Piers Anthony, and Vonnegut. Pseudo sci-fi uses the tropes of science fiction as flavor to go into philosophical, and otherwise purely fantasy storylines.

I prefer hard sci-fi. I never read pseudo sci-fi. Science Fantasy falls under pseudo science fiction (by my defintaion.) and although a fun movie series to watch, its not something I want to play.

Not that there's anything wrong with either, just a preference for one over the other.

Time travel could be real, psionics could be real, elves aren't real - I prefer elves and dragons, etc.

GP

Yea I like to keep hard sci-fi and fantasy separate. Never been a fan of psionics since its sort of an odd bridge between them. Hard sci-fi is my favorite though like you I enjoy my elves.

RPMiller
05-15-2009, 11:38 PM
I'm going to purposely not capitalize ki and chi, but I understand that some feel that it should be capitalized. Let's chalk this up to me being tired and lazy. ;)


Nope, I am getting the information from my sister. She's in massage therapy, primarily eastern massage. Eastern massage therapy uses Chi very heavily. She's also been interested in eastern culture since a very early age so she has been an excellent source of fascinating information on the region.

I see. That explains what you believe. While your sister is correct, she also doesn't understand the completeness of chi. Chi is, for the most part, essentially the same as ki, as others have stated. You have to remember that the Japanese people are "ex-Chinese." They came to Japan and to some extent bred with the original inhabitants, but mostly they subjugated them. Some of the descendants of those original inhabitants still live in the northern most areas of the island of Hokkaido, but all that is for a different discussion. The point is that when the Chinese migrated there, they brought many of their ideas and one of those was chi. I won't bore you with all the additional info as I could go on for a long time. I should mention that I work for a Japanese company so a lot of my knowledge comes first hand from my Japanese co-workers.

Anyway... More to come farther down.


I get my Ki knowledge from Aikido obviously (Shinshintouitsu Aikido, also known as Ki Aikido for it's primary focus on the Ki aspect of Aikido). From both what my teacher and others have said as well as what I have personally noticed I have come to view Ki as a non-mystical, non-spiritual thing. It can be scientifically measured and tested and it's results even without equipment are pretty obvious (and quite amazing).

Ah yes... the measuring and testing statement... This is a perfect segue into what chi is. I have read about those tests, and should point out here that the "scientists" doing the tests call the energy they are measuring both chi and ki. Chi is the Chinese word, and ki is the Japanese. Anyway, if you read that study very carefully, there are some logic fallacies and some non scientific steps that they take to "prove" that the energy is real. It is unfortunate as far as I'm concerned as you'll read in a moment.

When I first started practicing Tai Chi Chuan, I didn't believe in the full extent of chi, but I did experience it as a youth in a very small dose. Chinese healer... again long story. Anyway, when I started learning, my teacher was an American who had learned from a master in China, (cool story, but also long) he lived there for 15 years with the master and studyed everyday from sun up to sun down. So, I definitely gave him a good amount of credit, but remained somewhat skeptical.

Before you start the martial aspects you have to learn the various exercises as these help build up the chi within the practitioner. Again, my attitude, was "okay, whatever, I'll play along." There are various exercises that you do prior to doing the "forms." These exercises are comprised of various stretches and strikes to pressure points that are intended to free up the flow of chi. I'll skip the pages of description of the specifics. Let's just say that you need to be fit to do about half of them. After a couple weeks of doing these exercises everyday, I was suddenly shocked when, in the middle of "Horse Turns and Looks to the Moon" (loosely translated), my hands began to heat up and tingle. (That is the only way to describe it really.) Note that I had been doing these same exercises with no effects for a couple weeks already. I stopped and stood up and had to shake my hands to stop them from tingling. My teacher looked at me curiously and smiled and then said without me asking, "That is chi."

Jump forward several months. All 8 of us are lined up in the teacher's backyard (did I mention this is a private class?) and he tells us that it is time for a couple of us to experience the more "forceful" aspect of chi. I sort of had an idea what that could mean but I was ready for what happened. He walked up to me, touched his fingertips to my chest and then rocked back onto his heals. His hand flew forward palm facing me, and stopped the moment it touched it touched my shirt... As I pushed myself up to my elbows from the prone position I had assumed about 6' from where I had been standing, a sudden and painful throbbing started at my back and moved forward to my chest. The teacher came over and helped me to my feet and after a few passes over what I assumed were various pressure points and chi points, the pain went away. Note, that he did not "hit" me, but rather gently tapped my chest with his palm. I had no bruise from the impact the following day and no pain. I then believed in the power of chi in an offensive use...

If you have read this far, I commend you. I'm going to stop here and sum things up, and post more later if there are questions or directed comments. To sum up my experiences, Nomadic's description of ki above very much fits with my understanding of chi as well. The primary difference I believe in the definitions that are applied is that ki tends to be somewhat restricted to the martial aspects while chi extends into the healing arts as well. I firmly believe that the actual energy itself is the same and what they were seeing in that aforementioned study. I really wish that they had done a better job with that study because I really want to know what this internal energy is and how it works. To this day I can generate it in my hands within seconds, and have had my close friends feel the energy themselves to show that I'm not fooling around.


Anyhow at MSA, in the interest of maintaining the peace I am not going to read your earlier posts nor fault you for anything. I am sorry if you took what I said the wrong way but I wasn't using ignorant in a derogatory manner nor calling you a moron. There seems to be alot of misconception about what it really means.

Yes, your definition is correct, and it is unfortunate that so many take the word in such a negative light. This is why I personally refrain from using it and instead use the definition itself. ;)

Gamerprinter
05-16-2009, 12:07 AM
Wow, RP! You've definitely got me intrigued and can't wait to hear more. Not that there's room here, but I'd also love to hear the "long stories" that belong in another thread regarding your tale.

While I believe I have a good understanding of the basics of what Chi/Ki is, I haven't truly experienced it myself, thus its difficult to convey what it is to the uninitiated. I end up, sounding like a Ki religious missionary, but when cornered I can't give evidence to take it from what I believe to what it truly is.

Mostly when I say Ki is real, I usually get the stares of being some kind of weirdo. Of course much of the problem is many hear the idea of Chi/Ki through Anime and Manga, and those audiences of that material (of which I am not) see this as a flavor of oriental magic to drive the effects being done by the characters in the storyline. Too often, it is used to describe the fantasy idea of Ki - flying, stopping in midair, floating, creating fire and ice balls to throw at opponents and other such purely fantasy ideas that come out of Ki.

Thus to the uninitiated Ki can't be real, just a "belief system" of the orient and nothing more.

I look forward to your continued dissertation on the subject.

GP

PS: I'd love to give you some REP for this wonderful discussion - of course, I need to spread the love, before I can give you more, but for the first time in a while, I am in REP debt to you, as you often have been in the same position to REPping me!:shock:

Steel General
05-16-2009, 09:27 AM
I'll rep him for ya GP! *BONK*

RPMiller
05-19-2009, 02:32 PM
When I was about ten years old, I had the opportunity to visit a Chinese healer through a friend of the family who recommended that we go see him for some allergies that I was experiencing since moving to California. I barely recall the adults' conversation, but I believe it was concerning herbal remedies. Well, we set up the appointment and went to visit him. I only remember bits and pieces of the whole experience so bare with me if it is a little weak on details.

I sat on the edge of the bed, I don't remember it being a traditional hospital setting, and when the doctor walked in I remember him raising his hands toward me and moving them. He kept them raised as he moved toward me and then lowered them when he was a short distance away. He then talked to my mom for a bit. After that he stood to the side of me and moved one hand around in front of my chest and I assume the other was behind me. I felt my body get warmer, but don't remember any tingling or anything. After that we left, and I remember having to drink some really nasty tasting stuff for about a week. I seem to remember stopping before it was all gone because it was so awful, but I don't remember having any more allergic reactions since then. I have no idea if it was chi that that helped or the herbal remedy, but I do know from my own experience that he had been using chi when he was examining me. However, I will say that I have no idea how real that aspect is or what is involved since my experience is all on the martial side. But I can say that chi, when focused properly, does have some interesting properties...

Next up... "Breaking the flower."

ravells
05-19-2009, 08:03 PM
Did he call you 'grass hopper?'

Don't mean to be flip as I actually think that these curatives do work on occasion.

RPMiller
05-20-2009, 03:37 AM
Who knows? I was ten and I don't remember a thing he said. I don't even think he talked to me.

Greason Wolfe
05-25-2009, 01:59 AM
Boy, oh boy, oh boy! This has been some interesting (and fun) reading. I'm really not sure if my two and a half cents will contribute much to the overall conversation, and I will readily admit I am not an expert on either side of the coin when it comes to ki and its comparison to psionics. But back in the day, when I played in, and/or ran games, this subject did come up on occasion and in much the same fashion as it has here. So we (the group I played with) sat down and tried to define a few things in relation to it all. What we came up with suited our needs as far as gaming mechanics went, but certainly isn't entirely accurate in terms of what these concepts mean in the real world.

For the most part, we took psionics (as they are typically defined in most table top RPGs) and broke them down into two groups, based on whether they manifested themselves on a physical level or a sensory level.

Those abilities that manifested themselves on a physical level (i.e. Body Weaponry, Accelerated Healing, Improved Strength) became part of the Ki group. The Ki group was based off of the concept of everything, both animate and inanimate, being possessed of some sort of internal energy. We never could quite define what the nature of this energy was, but we were certain that it wasn't spiritual or elemental in any way, nor was it of an arcane or divine nature. I guess you could say it was like our version of Dark Matter. In any event, those skilled in the art of manipulating Ki, could affect changes in the physical world in the sense that they could, on a short term basis, improve their physical abilities, alter their bodies (minimally) or resist certain natural effects (i.e. resist cold, go without sleep, go without food). They could even manipulate the Ki of another to accelerate the natural healing process or, if they were "evil" cause a disruption in another's Ki resulting in pain and/or injury. As a side note, these abilities were often tied to a character's Ego or Willpower (Wisdom in D&D).

On the other side of that coin were those abilities that were strictly sensory in nature and couldn't effect the physical world. These we defined as Psionics in the traditional sense of the term. Into this group went such things as Telepathy, Empathy and most of the Cognitive abilities. The idea here was that these abilities came about as a result of a universal consciousness, or group mind, if you will. In essence, what we did was define a plane well beyond the known planes of existence where there existed a culmination of all thought, both conscious and unconscious. By accessing this plane, the Psi could read the thoughts of others, could see through their eyes, hear through their ears and so on. A particularly skilled Psi could even delve into the past and see events that happened long ago. The only thing we had to be careful of was working with Precognitive abilities. When it came to this, we tried to have things set up so that the Psi trying to read the future was given a few choices of what might happen and then work out the most likely result based on "in the moment" evidence. While most of these abilities were Intelligence based, Ego, Willpower (Wisdom in D&D) also played a significant roll, particularly when trying to keep thoughts hidden.

All of this worked really well for us as a group, and it wasn't long after that, that we started re-defining where the power behind Arcane and Divine magic came from. But that is for another discussion.

I sincerely hope this discussion continues as I do have a particularly vested interest in where it goes. One of my writing projects is in the sci-fi genre, and I've been reading up a bit on these very things as I try to define what the characters are and are not capable of in a futuristic setting where that concept of a universal consciousness has been "re-discovered." I've managed to define the apparent FTL travel concept, but I'm still looking for a way to justify instantaneous communications and had thought that Telepathy might play a significant role in that justification.

GW

Gamerprinter
05-31-2009, 05:35 PM
OK, after some thought and reconsideration, I decided to embrace psionics to be integrated with Ki. I've decided to add niche psionic enhancements to several classes in Kaidan.

Xen Monk (prestige class for Monks): psionic buffs to attributes, AC, movement, saves, and two or three energy attacks, sonic or force only.

Xen Samurai (one of the 15 noble houses of the provinces): psionic buffs to combat, combat movement, strength attributes and intimidation skills.

Five Ninja Houses each feature a different niche of psionic enhancements:

1. Stealth House will receive psionic: invisibility, pass through wall, shadow form, buffs to silent movement (shuriken weapons and buff to sneak attack.)

2. Divination House will receive psionic: clairvoyance, clairaudience, distance viewing, distance attacks (hankyu short bow, buffs to cover under fire.)

3. Movement House will receive psionic: levitation, walk on walls, jump and short bursts of speed movment, climb (chain weapons, free dodge, mobility)

4. Information Gatherers House (Kunoichi female ninja) will receive psionic: mind reading talents, detection abilities, suggestion powers (blade fan weapon skills, seduction skills with charisma enhancements.)

5. Temporal House will receive psionic: limited time manipulation powers, dimension door, sanctuary type power, dimensional slide (ninja-to sword weapon skills.)

I am not replacing Ki with psionics, rather I am enhancing Ki with psionics, but calling it all Ki (using psionics mechanically as it exists in game, however.)

GP

msa
05-31-2009, 08:25 PM
I suppose it goes without saying, but I thoroughly approve of your decision. There may be a large philosophical difference between the two, but I think as they manifest in a fantasy RPG they are very similar.

Greason Wolfe
06-01-2009, 08:35 AM
OK, after some thought and reconsideration, I decided to embrace psionics to be integrated with Ki. I've decided to add niche psionic enhancements to several classes in Kaidan.

<snip>

I am not replacing Ki with psionics, rather I am enhancing Ki with psionics, but calling it all Ki (using psionics mechanically as it exists in game, however.)

GP

I think that sounds perfectly reasonable. In the long run, whether or not to included psionic abilities in a campaign is a decision the GM has to make and, in making that decision, it always comes down to a matter of game balance. Based on what you've listed for the various houses, I'm thinking you've done a good job of adding an element of "flavor" to things, and I hope you'll let us know how it works out once play gets started.

GW

jfrazierjr
06-01-2009, 09:48 AM
Depending on your definitions, I would have Ki not equal Psionics. My thought on Ki has always been more like Psionics in that it is an internal only energy. ie, each person had Ki, but inanimate objects did not. Given a new definition of Ki, frankly, it sounds more like some settings explanation of magic.

Specifically, the D&D Frogotten Realms setting describes magic as an energy that exists and surrounds people and things. A practictioner of magic has learn to take the various "threads"(the setting has used this analogy) of magical energy and "weave" them together to create a magical effect. Most wizards just use magic, but in some of the novels, there have been a few characters who could actually see the threads of magic in a way similar to how Neo could see the matrix(though these books were created prior to the Matix movies).

In any event, thats just another opinion on the whole thing....

Gamerprinter
06-01-2009, 02:28 PM
Ultimately, I am not allowing a full psionicist class in Kaidan. By niching out various parts of psionics spread out onto a number of classes, psionics exist, but not in an over-powering game-breaking manner. Just enough to tweak those listed classes with extra psionic powers, and not allowing the highest level powers, only one good one per class, and lesser buffs for all.

This also allows for some of that "wuxia"/"chanbara" anime, cinematic martial arts combat, that I see many players might desire in a Japan based game setting, without going overboard.

GP

DungeonMasterGaz
06-08-2009, 12:55 PM
Great discussion, guys! There are some really interesting stories and views here. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the posts, so now I’m going make my contribution…

…When I play D&D I imagine medieval Europe/Middle Earth, generic western fantasy and, for me, WotC/TSRs interpretation of the monk has never fitted with any of my campaigns. Brawlers, pugilists, wrestlers; I can handle a character class that specialises in unarmed combat and dextrous movement if it’s presented in a western manner, but martial artists who draw on the power of ki or chi, etc., belong firmly in an oriental setting, IMHO.

I can understand WotC’s decision to lump the monk under the psionic power source simply because there aren’t enough classes to support ki becoming a full power source (which could change with an Oriental Adventures supplement?), but I think it’s a bit of let down, and I wish they had developed the monk with a western focus, because I think it would make an even better class and would be very different from the pseudo-shaolin offering we get with every edition of D&D – let me explain.

During the middle ages common folk saw demons, ghost, evil spirits, and the like as very real threats to everyday life. There are countless documented incidents were people encountered such supernatural creatures, and no matter how ridiculous these stories might sound to our modern ears, they were accepted as reality by the people of the time just as much as we accept stories coming from the CNN, ITN and BBC news networks. With all these spirits and demons running around, folk truly believed that they were living at the end of the world. These people were understandably terrified and wanted protection. And that protection came in the form of the church.

Over the years the church became fantastically wealthy (and still is) on donations, tithes and tributes from the faithful. These donations were given in return for the protection from evil that the church promised all believers. Every community had a church at its centre to protect it from evil, and the church’s righteous army was comprised of the countless priests and, particularly, monks that joined its ranks. Monasteries were garrisoned fortifications filled with “holy warriors” dedicated to defeating Satan and the forces of evil, but how did they combat him?

The monastic orders believed that just the act of thinking an evil thought gave power to Satan, and that evil thoughts were actually attacks by demons, so they fought against Satan and his demons by living a life of discipline and ritual all designed to banish evil thoughts and therefore deny Satan power. The monks woke at the same time; ate at the same time; prayed at the same time; slept at the same time, day in, day out, continuously and repetitively, believing that these actions were helping to defeat evil.

In time, some of these monks did train in more martial disciplines, giving rise to warrior monks like the Knights Templar – but that’s another class and story.

Now, the whole history goes deeper than this, but I’m already rattling on, and I’m hoping at this point that you’ve all got the basic idea, so I’ll summarise.

I think monks, from a western perspective, should draw upon the divine power source. Their powers should be prayers (like the other divine classes) and I think they should be controllers who specialise in combating demons, devils, and Far Realm aberrations, as opposed to undead (which is covered by clerics).

Now that’s my idea of a monk, and the background behind it, but to end in the spirit of this thread I’d have to say monks should be covered by the psionic power source because of my interpretation of how they disciplined their own minds against evil, and ki should maintain its special place in an oriental setting.

DMG