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The Will and the Way (2e)
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The Will and the Way (2e)

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In the deserts and cities of Athas, the most dangerous weapon is the mind. With a thought, deadly mindbenders can shatter stone, bend steel, or break opponents. Thousands of Athasians possess wild psionic talents, but only a select few can master the Way and call themselves psionicists.

The Will and the Way provides more details on psionics and psionicist characters. It introduces new character kits and special psionicist proficiencies for the first time. It expands the rules for psionic combat, adding a level of virtual reality to psychic battles. With guidelines and examples it offers rules for creating new psionic powers and crafting psionic items. Plus, it features over 60 new psionic powers for both wild talents and true psionicists.

The Will and the Way is not just for Dark Sun campaigns. As a companion volume to The Complete Psionics Handbook, the new powers and rules expansions contained in this book can be used in any AD&D campaign. The Way stretches before you. Do you have the Will to take the next step?

Product History

The Will and the Way (1994) by L. Richard Baker III is a book on psionics for Dark Sun. It was published in June 1994.

Continuing the Dark Sun Series. After two successful years of publication, 1994 was the year that the Dark Sun line began to fade. Each previous year had seen the publication of about a dozen supplements and novels, but 1994 saw just more than half of that. It was the beginning of the end …

Resource books were hit the hardest in the Dark Sun rampdown of 1994. The previous years had seen the "DSR" line (1992), the "DSS" line (1993), and one-offs Dragon Kings (1992), CGR2: The Complete Gladiator's Handbook (1993), and The Ivory Triangle (1993), but in 1994, The Will and the Way was the only pure sourcebook — though City by the Silt Sea combined adventure with setting. The rest of the line that year was adventures and novels. This was not necessarily a trend, as sourcebooks and references would bounce back as a larger segment of the Dark Sun line in 1995 and 1996.

The Will and the Way was the second magical splatbook for Dark Sun, following DSS2: "Earth, Air, Fire, and Water" (1993). The trilogy would be completed just before the line's death with Defilers and Preservers: The Wizards of Athas (1996).

Expanding Psionics. This supplement's name refers to psionics, with "will" referring to innate ability and "way" referring to psionic schooling. Psionics were, of course, always a cornerstone of Dark Sun play, but different authors gave them different amounts of attention.

Fundamentally, The Will and the Way is a supplement to PHBR5: The Complete Psionics Handbook (1991), the core rulebook for psionics during AD&D 2e (1989-2000).
It expands the earlier book's core ideas by providing new, expanded rules for mental combat, new powers, new disciplines, and more, but it also presents it all within the context of the world of Athas. TSR's decision to publish this second psionics rulebook as a Dark Sun supplement rather than a general rulebook suggests how much settings had taken over the D&D offices by the mid '90s. However an unusual "AD&D 2nd Edition" logo on this book's cover shows that TSR was still trying to appeal to the larger universe of D&D players as well.

Expanding Athas. There's a small bit of setting history in The Will and Way, that traces the story of psionics in Athas back a thousand years. Somewhat surprisingly, it opts not to touch upon the possible (and controversial) origin for psionics suggested just a few months earlier in Black Spine (1994).

The Will and the Way also discusses how psionics are used in cities across the Tyr Region. It's a nice complement to DSR3: "Veiled Alliance" (1992), which does much the same thing for magic-using preservers and it's also an indication of the continued importance of the Tyr region cities to the Dark Sun campaign.

Future History. Later in the year, TSR published Deck of Psionic Powers (1994) which combines the psionic powers from The Complete Psionics Handbook and The Will and the Way.

About the Creators. Baker was by now an experienced hand at TSR, with three previous Dark Sun books under his belt. Meanwhile his AD&D opus, Birthright (1995), was just around the corner.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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David J November 25, 2014 3:20 pm UTC
Probably my favorite Dark Sun cover painting (by Robh Ruppel, in this situation). Loved all of Brom's work, but this painting is exquisite!
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Product Information
Artist(s)
Rules Edition(s)
Pages
96
Edition
1.0
ISBN
1-56076-861-4
Publisher Stock #
TSR 2431
File Size:
46.2 MB
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File Last Updated:
November 24, 2014
This title was added to our catalog on November 25, 2014.