Shadow and Gold
Magic and Psionics
Since magic can be portrayed in countless ways, I want to clarify how it will work in my campaign.
Spellcasting: for the most part, spellcasting is not particularly subtle. Unless the spell is supposed to be quiet in some way (such as spells with no verbal component, or spells cast with the Silent Spell feat) then it should be assumed that the incantation of the spell is at a normal decibel level. Damaging and explosive spells are generally cast with a shout. It is important to keep this in mind. Casting a spell in one room is likely to alert enemies in the next room. Casting a spell in the middle of a tense negotiation will alert everyone involved (and may not go over well if they don’t know what spell you’re casting). Unless you have a special feat for it, you cannot simply opt to cast a spell more quietly.
It’s also important to note that arcane spellcasting usually involves complex gestures. This is not just a little wiggling of the fingers; it generally involves broad gestures and tracing runes in the air. This is why there is a chance of spell failure with armor. Even light armor is restrictive in the arm and shoulder areas and may prevent casters from properly executing the somatic components of their spells.
Appearance: spellcasting also has a distinct appearance. Whenever anyone (arcane or divine casters) use magic, an aura of mystical symbols appears around either the hands (for spells with somatic or material components) or the head (for spells with only verbal components). This may only be for a moment, but it will give observers something to identify should they decide to use spellcraft. Observers using spellcraft can identify a spell based on the symbols in its aura, the color of the aura, as well as the incantation.
Material components: spellcasters with component pouches are automatically assumed to have any materials that they need (except for materials worth 1 gp or more). It is assumed that these are natural materials that they gather along the way or purchase minor crafted items (such as the glass rods used in lightning bolt). Keep in mind, however, that any components that cost at least 1 gp still need to be tracked. This is the case even with the Eschew Materials feat.
Though it is a less common power on Golarion, psionics will play a role in the world. I will be using Dreamscarred Press’s Psionics Unleashed as the official reference book on psionics.
Psionics are generally known to anyone who has at least one rank in Knowledge (Arcana) as this skill covers more than simply arcane magic. It deals with a variety of metaphysical areas, including powers of the mind. However, psionics do not play a major role in the cultures of Avistan or Garund. As such, they are not fully understood or respected by spellcasters. Part of this is due to the idea that it is “foreign” and thus, inferior to the rigorous studies of arcane magic. For others, psionics carry with them a stigma since this power is found more among the strange races of the Darklands (especially the duergar and the dreaded aboleth races).
The average people and typical adventurers simply regard psionics as mind magic. Only those with ranks in Knowledge (Arcana) are even familiar with the formal term “psionics.” Most others simply know this power by a variety of other names such as ’Varisian thought magic," Vudrani mind magic," and many elves refer to it as the “Castrovan Mind Arts.”
Among the people of Avistan, psionics is most often practiced by the Varisian people (who tend to specialize in telepathy or clairsentience), gnomes (many of whom become wilders or psions), half-giants (most of whom become psychic warriors or soul knives), or half-elves (many of whom become wilders or soul knives).
In Garund and beyond, psionics are practiced more formally by the Vudrani people of Jalmeray. In the lands of Vudra in the far east, psionics are practiced and respected, even by spellcasters. Both Jalmeray and Vudra boast numerous temples dedicated to the formal training of psions, psychic warriors, and soul knives.
In addition to the psionic classes, there are a number of races for whom psionics are a normal part of life and culture.
The half-giant race hails from the Storval Plateau. Once part of a Thassilonian breeding program to create the perfect warrior, they now live as nomadic tribesmen. The mysterious elans don’t fully understand their origins. Most have few memories of their former lives (some of which were nearly 100 years earlier). However, all elans share vague memories of strange chanting, inhuman eyes and being surrounded by a disturbing glow. The blue is an offshoot of goblin and can be found wherever their kin are. Many take positions of power among the goblins. Maenads roam the Obari Ocean and Inner Sea. It is said that they originated in the ancient land of Iblydos. Ophiduans are said to be distant descendants of the ancient serpentfolk race that once dominated the world. They live in cities throughout the Mwangi Expanse and sometimes find work as pirates in the Shackles. Finally, the dromites and xephs are extraterrestrial in origin. Both races originated on the green planet Castroval where they share exotic jungles with the lashunta people, another psionic race.
Psionic items are less common in Avistan, but much more common in Jamelray and Vudra. Nevertheless, psionic items still can be found in treasure hordes and even in magic shops, though with less frequency in Avistan.