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I'm creating my first psionic character using D&D 3.5's Expanded Psionics Handbook. The character is a level 1 psion whose discipline is psychoportation (and therefore is a "nomad").

I have the ability to select 3 level powers, but which ones can I pick? The "Powers Known" section on page 20 says (excerpted):

A psion begins play knowing three psion powers of your choice. ... Choose the powers from the psion power list, or from the list of powers of your chosen discipline. You cannot choose powers from disciplines other than your chosen discipline.

Does this mean:

  • I may select any power from the 1st-level psion/wilder powers list, as well as any level 1 power from the psychportation discipline powers. I may not select from the discipline powers lists for other disciplines.
  • I may select a 1st-level power from the psychoportation discipline powers list, as well as any 1st-level powers from the psion/wilder list if they are psychoportation powers. I may not select any power that is not a psychoportation power.
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1 Answer 1

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Your first option

This is the correct ruling:

  • I may select any power from the 1st-level psion/wilder powers list, as well as any level 1 power from the psychportation discipline powers. I may not select from the discipline powers lists for other disciplines.

To determine that, we look first to the rules... but then we need some extra context.

Choose the powers from the psion power list, or from the list of powers of your chosen discipline.

In other words, your options are the union of (powers listed in the psion/wilder list) and (powers listed on your discipline list). This much is good and clear.

You cannot choose powers from disciplines other than your chosen discipline.

This is more poorly-written—it means that you cannot choose powers from other discipline lists, but you can choose powers of other disciplines if they are on the psion/wilder list. Unfortunately, the words written don’t really say that. But this is clear from a number of sources, including Expanded Psionics Handbook itself (which the SRD is a reference for):

Human Psion Starting Package

This starting psion has chosen telepathy as his discipline. […]

Powers Known: Psionic charm, psionic daze, force screen.

(Expanded Psionics Handbook pg. 21)

You’ll notice the presence of force screen, a psychokinetic power, on this telepath’s list of powers known. That’s allowed because force screen is on the general psion/wilder list, and not the kineticist-only list.

Furthermore, the layout of the powers would make no sense if this wasn’t allowed: why even have the general psion/wilder list if psions couldn’t choose powers on it of other disciplines? If that were the case, they would have just had a psion list—divided up by discipline the way the sor/wiz spell list is by school—and a separate wilder list. It would be a lot clearer. They haven’t done that because the psion/wilder list is shared by all psions, regardless of favored discipline.

Also, kind of an appeal to authority, but not for nothing: I am also a published author of 3.x psionic material. I can’t claim to have completely encyclopedic knowledge of everything psionic ever, but this is pretty basic stuff. I am absolutely 100% confident in this answer; the only challenge for me was finding how best to back it up.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ “Why even have the general psion/wilder list if psions couldn’t choose powers on it of other disciplines?” To have a list of powers that the wilder can select and psions could ape through contact sharing, of course, whee said glibly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Firebreak
    Oct 22, 2023 at 23:53

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