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Am I missing something here? Comparing the Shatter Mind Blank power to the Dispel Psionics power it would appear Shatter Mind Blank is a far weaker option than Dispel Psionics in terms of range, power point cost, power level which is higher in the case of Shatter Mind Blank and subjectivity to Saving Throw and Power Resistance. Apart from the area which would mean Shatter Mind Blank can affect more than one target, Dispel Psionics would usually be a more versatile option by far. Which makes me question whether there is something fundamental I'm missing?

Dispel Psionics

https://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/powers/dispelPsionics.htm

Shatter Mind Blank

https://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/powers/shatterMindBlank.htm

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the answer is "Shatter Mind Blank's range is a 30-ft burst around you," but I can't write a proper answer because I don't know why the text of the spell implies it is single-target. Everything refers to "the target," not "all creatures within the 30-ft burst." \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices Yes I noticed that as well, I've got to say this particular power is a bit sketchy in many respects. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 14:48

1 Answer 1

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There are a few extremely niche corner cases where shatter mind blank is arguably superior to dispel psionics. However, even in those cases, it is not much better. Thus, we have a situation where the overwhelming majority of the time, dispel psionics is much better, and then very rarely, shatter mind blank is a little better. Clearly, dispel psionics is a much, much better power.

The three cases where shatter mind blank “excels,” to the extent that it does, are:

  1. You have manifester level 20th or higher, and only care about removing a mind blank effect: shatter mind blank achieves the +20 maximum bonus for 9 power points, while dispel psionics requires 10 power points to achieve the same bonus. Needless to say, saving 1 power point is rarely of significant concern at manifester level 20th.

  2. You face a crowd of foes with mind blank effects, and also other effects at higher manifester level, and you really want to remove the mind blank effects and don’t care about the others. In this situation, if you used the area version of dispel psionics, it would target the other, higher-manifester-level effects first, and only move on to other effects (like the mind blank effect you want to target) if those failed, while shatter mind blank would target only the mind blank effects to begin with.

  3. You have a target whose mind blank effect you want to remove, but who is also subject to other effects that you do not want to remove. In this case, a targeted dispel psionics would attempt to dispel everything, while shatter mind blank would only apply to the mind blank effect.

However, note that advantages 2 and 3 disappear if you can just choose to intentionally fail your dispel checks (and you are allowed to determine which effect each dispel check is for). If you can do that, you can just leave alone other effects and get to the mind blank effect you want. Advantage 2 also assumes that shatter mind blank affects all targets in its area—which is unclear, since it refers to “target,” singular, without being a targeted power or defining what target that is. If it only affects one target, then advantage 2 doesn’t exist.

(Advantage 1 is rock-solid, though! ⌐.⌐)

Anyway, even with these advantages, shatter mind blank is far too niche to devote an entire power known to it. The only way I could ever see it being used is by an erudite psion (Complete Psionic), since they can learn any number of powers, and do not even have to prepare which they will use for the day ahead of time, so they can pull out shatter mind blank in one of these rare situations without it having cost them (much).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks appreciate for confirming, I thought I was missing something and was thinking surely this can't be right. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 15:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Could this be one of those dumb spells (like freedom of movement) that was needed to justify the effects of an earlier edition's magic item or something? Or was there something in the (original and unexpanded) Psionics Handbook that had this effect, and the writer thought folks would miss the option? I mean, really, it seems so suboptimal as to be (ahem) pointless. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 15:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Agreed on its pointfulness or lack thereof, but I have no knowledge of its publication history. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jul 17, 2023 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you don't use magic-psionics transparency Shatter Mind Blank gets better, though, since Dispel Psionics won't work against magical effects while Shatter Mind Blank very well might. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 8:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000 Shatter mind blank works against psionic mind blank and personal mind blank both of which are psionic powers. If the magic-psionics transparency rule isn't used shatter mind blank is even weaker than when it is being used. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 5:47

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