Five Worldly Ascetics & Rogue Exponents

I've always liked psionics in my D&D, both as an innate set of traits, and as a trained or ascetic practice.  But one of Telecanter's blog posts, which helped highlight these differences got me thinking about how odd it is that a character whose claim to fame is self reliance, would be marauding through a dungeon looking for wealth and power.

I posed this question in the comments, and in Telecanter's response, he mentioned a similarity between kung fu narratives and westerns.  This led to a roundabout epiphany on my part.

In my mind westerns will now always be associated with this weird little niche of geekdom:

The Dark Tower in particular suggests a foil to the gunslinger:  the failed gunslinger. Gunslingers who fail their Test are forced to turn in their guns and head into the West, where they often turn desperado and always come to no good.

This might set too dismal a tone to be the norm for all psionic PCs, but it does provide a seed of inspiration for a few non-standard psionic archetypes, some of which are on the lighter side:

The Drunken Master or Taoist "Sword Saint"

One whose kung fu or asceticism relies on some form of worldly excess or at least worldly insight.  They may see no conflict between material gain and bodily power, or may limit their indulgence to one specific area thereby gaining insight regarding it.

The Monkey King

Powerful (not necessarily animal) practitioners who tasted a little power and subsequently ran amok. Clearing out dungeons or donating an unrealistically large amount to charity is necessary to complete the atonement they were handed out by the powers that be.

The Decadent Master

Those who would be able to lift themselves to the upper planes by their own sandle-straps if it weren't for that remaining avarice for finely crafted trinkets, which they can't seem to kick.

The Shepherd-Bodhisattva

Those who really would be ascending under the force of their own enlightenment, but choose to retain some impurity so as to remain in the world aiding others on the path.

The Disillusioned Disciple

Those who mastered the techniques, but have since left the fold. Their parting of ways may have arisen for any number of reasons:

  • Cognitive dissonence - They realized their teachers and superiors, or perhaps the rank and file of their order were not living up to their ideals (e.g. John Preston of Equilibrium).
  • Philosophical failings - After executing every step of the supposed path of enlightenment, they still felt unfulfilled, or found the teachings to be empty or unsound.
  • The Deserted Faithful - Despite the character's true belief in the cause at hand, their order cast them out, or disbanded, or their leadership chose a different path (e.g. Malcolm Reynolds).