Psionically tempered materials



Aug 30, 2006 9:34:44
Posted about such some long time ago but worth a revist?

In real life, Obsidian is a lousy weapon material because it can't be melted, poured, moulded and thus shaped lieek metal , and it has many flaws which cause it to easily fracture. Obsidian is actually much harder than steel and is now used for scalpels and other tools, it produces incredibly sharp edges, hence its old use in weapons depsite it's problems.

It's important to realize the difference between "hardness" and "tensile strength". Obsidian and glass are much harder than steel, but have a huge amount of flaws in them that makes them easily broken (low tensile strength). However, modern techniques can create ceramic materials without many of these flaws, and thus create ceramic-bladed scissors, for example.
If you could remove the flaws from most materials, you could have better equipment.

Obsidian and stone are lighter by 1/2 to 2/3rd the weight of steel, which can have pros and cons for a weapon (steel weapons have larger mass so a steel warhammer can be smaller than a stone one and still be effective).

With several Psionic powers, or ones NPCs may develop (as I'm sure they would on Athas, folk there are not stupid), it should be easy, but uncommon to have "psionically tempered" obsidian and other materials, that is, much less prone to breakages and less penalties as weapons and armour.

Simply put, they'd not suffer the usual hit/damage penalties and not be quite so fragile. Dark Sun 3rd Ed rules from, page 50 has excellent rules/table for inferior items.

My suggestion for "Psionically tempered" items:

1) masterwork, such items are created by master crafstmen of psionic skill, their products are superior, and thus get the usual bonuses for masterwork: +1 to hit, or -1 skill penalty checks for armour/shields. But they also have the cost of masterwork.

2) +5 hp per inch of thickness of the base material. Psionically tempered items have all their flaws and stresses removed, making them noticably stronger than normal. This works on everything from rope to adamantine.
See page 165 in the 3.5 Player's handoobk, or page 50 inthe Dark Sun 3 release from

3) Such weapons do not get the -1hit/damage penalty from using "inferior materials". Even wood can be psioncially tempered to be hard as steel (it just won't be as strong as steel though, less "hit points").

4) The price of Psionically tempered items is 10x normal, plus 300 ceramic pieces for armour/weapon, or 6 ceramic pieces per single unit of ammunition.

Since metal is extremely rare, it is only logical that Athasians would adapt and use what they have, Psionic artisans would use "Psionic Fabricate" and other such powers to help make these superb "psioncially tempered" items.
I'd imagine each city would have a small cadre of psion/exeprts, or wilder/experts whos trade it is to make such items. Templars, successful gladiators, wealthy merchants etc would have a great demand for such strudy weapons and armour. Psionics is a superb way to careful perfect the inner structure of materials, by removing flaws or even altering its properties, you end up with incredibly tough/hard items (as you could in real life with nano-technology etc).

What ye think?


Aug 30, 2006 11:21:54
I'm pretty sure that there's a psionic power in the EPH that allows you to harden materials, giving them additional hardness and/or HP, which should have this same effect. I'd suggest taking a look at that power (can't remember the name) and perhaps coming up with cost adjustments based on that - for instance, use the rules to modify the hardness/hp of obsidian until it matches that of steel, then determine (using normal methods, such as that "cost for an NPC to cast a spell" blurb hidden away in the DMG) how much it'd cost to do it.


Aug 30, 2006 14:58:23
It's very expensive, in terms of experience point cost.


Aug 31, 2006 19:06:15
There's also blood obsidian - the Paizo Dark Sun thing had it as a special material. Kinda cool.


Sep 02, 2006 17:17:47
Fabricate, Psionic can do it possibly, plus as said there'd be unique, researched powers devloped just for this task. Remember a lot of Spells/powers simply don't fit in an adventurer's book like the PHB etc 'cause many casters/psis would have very mundane but useful powers


Sep 03, 2006 20:42:50
i agree with silverblade, and about blood obsidian,

simply: dont. it's crap in my opinion, again some silly fabrication of piazo to make their attempt more interesting, but not quite succeeding...


Sep 03, 2006 23:47:41
Craft and ironwood used together can make items with the strength of iron, so an equivalent power might do the trick.

Or, some new power that confers hardness or more hp on a material, any material, including cloth.