I want buy the most complete book for use of psionics in my Pathfinder game. The three books I’m concerned about are Psionics Unleashed, Psionics Augmented and Ultimate Psionics. I’ve heard there’s content overlap; which are considered definitive and up-to-date, and which are outdated?
There have been multiple Dreamscarred Press releases of the basic psionics rules for Pathfinder.
First, there was Psionics Unleashed, which adapted the SRD that Wizards of the Coast released. This was quickly followed by a couple of smaller “Psionics Augmented” releases, and the earliest few got gathered into Psionics Expanded, which adjusted a few central elements and added things like “talents”, which are at-will 0-level powers.
Later, Dreamscarred Press decided that there should be just one book that customers need to buy, with all the advanced content up to that point included. This book was Ultimate Psionics, and it contains everything you need to understand later releases.
However, some years later, DSP decided that Psionics Unleashed needed a bit more polish, and released Psionics Unleashed Revised, which is a new edition of Psionics Unleashed that has a little more content than the original, but it’s not comprehensive like Ultimate Psionics is, so I can’t recommend it. The product description advises people interested in having more content to go buy Ultimate Psionics, so I don't feel like you're missing out on much if you pick up only that book.
Disclosure: I have worked for Dreamscarred Press, including on some of the titles I’m listing below.
A note on purchasing: buying directly from Dreamscarred Press’s own online store results in the most money going to DSP, if that’s important to you—when you buy from another store, that store takes a cut (the pricing is, everywhere I’ve seen, the same). Unfortunately—bizarrely—not everything DSP has done is available through their own store. On top of that, bigger stores sometimes offer bundles and sales that may be worthwhile and may not be available through DSP’s own store. So that much will have to be up to you.
This is the primary psionics book for Pathfinder.
Ultimate Psionics combines the content found in Psionics Unleashed: Core Psionics System, Psionics Expanded: Advanced Psionics Guide, and Psionics Augmented: Volume I, into a single integrated book.
So if you buy Ultimate Psionics, you should not buy any of those books. And you should buy Ultimate Psionics, since it is the updated, polished version of the content from those books, and most psionics books since Ultimate Psionics build upon it.
Psionic Bestiary is what it says on the tin, a book full of psionic monsters.
You can also find other, more-specific Psionic Bestiary books in various stores, like Psionic Bestiary: Dragons—I’m not rightly sure what those are, if they’re included in the primary Psionic Bestiary or not. I think Psionic Bestiary has everything, since, for example, it has psionic dragons. Also, DSP sells only the main Psionic Bestiary, and not the others, from its store.
Psionics Augmented Volume II
Psionics Augmented is Dreamscarred Press’s brand for smaller psionics supplements. Volume I and Volume II are large compilations of those smaller supplements—and then Volume I was included in Ultimate Psionics. Volume II, however, contains new content not found in Ultimate Psionics.
Psionics Augmented Volume II includes the following titles, previously only available as digital downloads:
- Psionics Augmented: Focused Disciplines
- Psionics Augmented: Powers
- Psionics Augmented: Powers II
- Psionics Augmented: Psychic Warrior
- Psionics Augmented: Psychic Warrior II
- Psionics Augmented: Soulknives
- Psionics Augmented: Soulknives II
- Psionics Augmented: Soulknives III
- Psionics Augmented: Wilders
Psionics Augmented: Seventh Path
The base psionics system includes six disciplines—Clairsentience, Metacreativity, Psychokinesis, Psychometabolism, Psychoportation, and Telepathy (yes, the “psycho-” prefix is overused, but in DSP’s semi-defense, that comes from D&D). Seventh Path, well, adds a seventh—Athanatism. Athanatism is psionics relating to spirits and souls, and Seventh Path is the book that details it, including the psion specializing in Athanatism, the conduit.
Though a fairly fundamental extension of psionics, Athanatism being added on later means that other supplements often don’t get into it as much. It’s not actually required for to use most other books.
Psionics Augmented: Occult
Disclosure: My name’s in this one. In addition to my own work, I got to be pretty good friends with everyone else who worked on this.
When Paizo released Occult Adventures, it had an immediate and negative effect on Dreamscarred Press’s sales, as many players saw Occult Adventures as providing the “official” version of psionics. Both Dreamscarred Press and Paizo said that was untrue, and it wasn’t—the psychic magic in Occult Adventures is very different from psionics both mechanically and conceptually—but the confusion did damage nonetheless. The Psionics Augmented: Occult line of supplements were devoted to exploring the space between psychic magic and psionics, highlighting the differences and even showing how they could be melded in interesting ways.
Psionics Augmented: Occult is a compilation of numerous Psionics Augmented supplements along these lines, including Empath (mine), Host of Heroes, Living Legend, Kineticists, Mind and Soul, and Occultists.
Psionics Augmented: Highlord and Psionics Augmented: Highlord II
The highlord is a psionic class dedicated to telepathically bossing people around. It’s not really a mind-control class, but rather a leader who uses a telepathic connection to keep track of the battlefield and direct everyone to their greatest effectiveness.
It got two books because the author has too many good ideas. (He’s a friend.)
Psionics Augmented: Voyager
The voyager is a psionic skirmisher that can literally be in two places at once. Very fun, kinetic class; the author plays one in the game we’re both in.
Psionics Augmented: Psicrystals Expanded
A quirky little supplement, but there’s some real fun stuff in here. Psicrystals are pretty cool, after all.
This little supplement has some detailed psionic NPCs. Maybe useful for a GM, but not critical content. Only covers Ultimate Psionics content, so you won’t see a living legend NPC in here.
Psionics Augmented: Mythic Psionics
It is what it says it is. I’ll be honest, I despise mythic; I think it’s a fundamentally broken ruleset that should never be used. But if you’re using it, it makes sense to have mythic options for psionics, too.
Dreamscarred Press occasionally references or expands upon psionic material in its other books not focused specifically on psionics. I believe both the Akashic Mysteries line and Path of War line have a few options in this vein. The April Augmented books definitely do, and while those are April Fools’ jokes, DSP holds its jokes to the same high standard they hold everything else—the content in April Augmented is fully intended to be playable even in serious campaigns.