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SRD:Using Psionic Items

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Using Items

To use a psionic item, it must be activated, although sometimes activation is accomplished simply by picking up an item or putting it on. Some items, once they are carried or worn, function constantly. In most cases, using an item requires a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. By contrast, power completion items (see below) are treated just like powers in combat and do provoke attacks of opportunity.

Activating a psionic item is a standard action unless the item description indicates otherwise. The manifesting time of a power is the time required to activate the same power in an item, whether it’s a power stone, a dorje, or a psionic tattoo, unless the item description specifically states otherwise.

The four ways to activate psionic items are described below.

Power Completion

This is the activation method for power stones. A power stone holds a power that is mostly finished. All that’s left to do is perform the short, simple, finishing parts of the manifestation (the final mental coda, as it were). To use a power completion item safely, a character must be of high enough level in the appropriate class to manifest the power already. If he can’t already manifest the power, there’s a chance he’ll make a mistake (see Brainburn in the power stone description). Activating a power completion item is a standard action and provokes attacks of opportunity exactly as manifesting a power does.

Powers stored in power completion items are usually not augmented, because the manifester level of such an item is assumed to be the minimum necessary to manifest the stored power. However, an item’s description may specify otherwise (some power stones have manifester levels higher than the minimum required to manifest the stored power, and are then assumed to be augmented as well).

Power Trigger

This is the activation method for dorjes and psicrowns. It requires the special knowledge of power manifestation that a character of the appropriate class would know, and the formation of the appropriate command thought. If a power is on a character’s power list, the character knows how to use a power trigger item that stores that power. The user must still determine what power is stored in the item before she can activate it. Activating a power trigger item is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Powers stored in power trigger items are not augmented. Such powers are assumed to be stored in the item at the minimum manifester level necessary to manifest the power. However, certain items may specify a higher manifester level than necessary. If such an item holds a power that deals hit point damage, the power is assumed to be augmented to the maximum allowed by the power and the manifester level.

Command Thought

If no activation method is suggested either in the psionic item description or by the nature of the item, assume that a command thought is needed to activate it. Command thought activation means that a character mentally projects a thought, and the item activates. No other special knowledge is needed. Activating a command thought psionic item is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Sometimes the command thought to activate an item is mentally imprinted within it and is whispered into the mind of a creature who picks it up. Other items are silent, but a Knowledge (psionics) or Knowledge (history) check might be useful in helping to identify command thoughts. A successful DC 30 check is needed to come up with the command thought in this case. The power psionic identify reveals command thoughts.

Powers stored in command thought items are usually not augmented, because the manifester level of such an item is assumed to be the minimum possible to manifest the stored power.


This type of psionic item simply has to be used to activate. Use activation is generally straightforward and self-explanatory.

Many use-activated items are objects that a character wears. Some items made for wearing must still be activated. Although this activation sometimes requires a command thought (see above), usually it means mentally willing the activation to happen (a free action). The description of an item states whether a command thought is needed in such a case.

Unless stated otherwise, activating a use-activated psionic item is either a standard action or not an action at all and does not provoke attacks of opportunity, unless the use involves performing an action that provokes attacks of opportunity in itself. If the use of the item takes time before a psionic effect occurs, then use activation is a standard action. If the item’s activation is subsumed in its use and takes no extra time, use activation is not an action at all.

Use activation doesn’t mean that if you use an item, you automatically know what it can do. You must know (or at least guess) what the item can do and then use the item to activate it, unless the benefit of the item comes automatically.

Powers stored in use-activated items are usually not augmented, because the manifester level of such an item is assumed to be the minimum possible to manifest the stored power.

Saving Throws Against Psionic Item Powers

Psionic items produce psionic powers. The DC of a saving throw against a power from a psionic item is always 10 + the level of the power or effect + the ability modifier of the minimum ability score needed to manifest that level of power.

Another way to figure the same number is to multiply the power’s level by 1-1/2 and add 10 to the result.

Psicrowns are an exception to the rule. Treat the saving throw as if the wielder manifested the power, including caster level and all modifiers to save DC.

Some psionic items take advantage of the fact that powers can be augmented to increase their saving throw DCs. These items are special and have their cost to create and market price calculated using the manifester’s level instead of the power’s level.

Most item descriptions give saving throw DCs for various effects, particularly when the effect has no exact power equivalent (making its level otherwise difficult to quickly determine).

Damaging Psionic Items

A psionic item doesn’t need to make a saving throw unless it is unattended, it is specifically targeted by the effect, or its wielder rolls a natural 1 on his saving throw. Psionic items should always get a save against powers or spells that might deal damage to them—even against attacks from which a mundane item would normally get no chance to save. All types of psionic item saves—Fortitude, Reflex, and Will—are calculated the same way: The item’s saving throw bonus equals 2 + 1/2 its manifester level (round down). The only exceptions to this rule are intelligent psionic items, which make Will saves based on their own Wisdom scores.

A psionic item, unless otherwise noted, takes damage as a normal item of the same type. A damaged psionic item continues to function, but if it is destroyed, all its psionic power is lost.

Repairing Items

Some psionic items (especially psionic weapons and shields) may take damage over the course of an adventure. It costs no more to repair a psionic item with the Craft skill than it does to repair its nonpsionic counterpart. The make whole spell can repair a damaged—but not completely broken— psionic item.

Intelligent Items

Some psionic items, particularly weapons, have an intelligence all their own. Only permanent psionic items (as opposed to those that are single-use items, those that have charges, or those that store power points) can be intelligent. (This means that psionic tattoos, power stones, and dorjes, among other items, are never intelligent.) In general, less than 1% of psionic items have intelligence.

Cursed Items

Some psionic items are cursed—incorrectly made, or corrupted by outside forces. Cursed items might be particularly dangerous to the user, or they might be normal items with a minor f law, an inconvenient requirement, or an unpredictable nature. Randomly generated items are cursed 5% of the time.

Charges and Multiple Uses

Some items are limited in power by the number of charges they hold or the number of power points they contain. Normally, charged items (such as dorjes) have 50 charges at most. If such an item is found as a random part of a treasure, roll d% and divide by 2 to determine the number of charges left (round down, minimum 1).

Similarly, items that contain power points (such as psicrowns) have a number of points equal to 50 × the manifester level of the creator. If such an item is found as a random part of a treasure, roll d% and divide by 2 to determine the number by which the manifester level is multiplied (round down, minimum 1).

Market prices given on the tables are always for fully charged or fully powered items. (When an item is created, it is fully charged or fully powered.) For an item that’s worthless when its charges or power points run out (which is the case for almost all charged or powered items), the value of the partially used item is proportional to the number of charges left. For an item that has usefulness in addition to its charges, only part of the item’s value is based on the number of charges left.

Some items are single-use and expendable. Such items can often be found in sets or groups.

Magic Items for Psionic Characters

Many magic items can aid psionic characters. The table below provides some possibilities.

Table: Magic–Psionics Equivalencies

Magic Item Psionic Effect
Helm of telepathy Substitute power for spell
Pearl of power Treat in all ways as a cognizance crystal with power point capacity appropriate to the equivalent power level
Crystal ball Substitute power for spell
Ioun stones
Vibrant purple Stores three levels of psionic powers
Pale lavender Absorbs powers up to 4th level (burns out as normal)
Rainbow1 Provides 5 power points per day (regenerates)
Dull gray2 Provides 1 power point to a psionic character, then disintegrates
  1. New item: Treat as a cognizance crystal in ioun stone form, except that it regenerates its stored power points each day; Price 16,000 gp.
  2. Dull gray stones are useless for magic but still harbor just enough resonance that a psionic character can eke out 1 power point before the stone is gone forever.

Back to Main PageSystem Reference DocumentPsionic Items

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