Unearthed Arcana 5E Psionics Alert! The Mystic Is Back In Unearthed Arcana

It's back! The long-awaited new version of the mystic - 5th Edition's psionic class - is here. "The mystic class, a master of psionics, has arrived in its entirety for you to try in your D&D games. Thanks to your playtest feedback on the class’s previous two versions, the class now goes to level 20, has six subclasses, and can choose from many new psionic disciplines and talents. Explore the material here—there’s a lot of it—and let us know what you think in the survey we release in the next installment of Unearthed Arcana." Click the image below for the full 28-page PDF!

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I really don't see why there is such furor over the connection between Far Realms and Psionics. Aberrations in 5e are tied to the Far Realms. Many, if not most, of the psionic creatures in D&D are aberrations. There's already a pretty clear tie between the Far Realms and psionics in the game. And, while the term Far Realms is new, the connection between aberrations and psionics has always been in the game - Aboleth, Mind Flayers, Thought Eaters, Intellect Devourers, so on and so forth.

Why is this suddenly a big deal that they make that connection explicit? 5e's already gone a long way down that road by directly tying aberrations to the Far Realms, so, to me, it just seems like this is acknowledging what's already been rather clearly implied.

Besides, to me, since 5e magic all comes from The Weave, it just seems like a lot more flavorful than saying, "Hey, your character is extra special". It's just a bit too comic book for me. My mutant superhero Soul Knife adventures in quasi medieval land. I'd rather psionics gained a lot more of a "knowledge that man should not have" flavor than, "Hey, your mutant genes lets you do superhuman stuff".

I guess, to me, giving psionics a Lovecraft spin just oozes a lot more flavor than fantasy X-men.

The Far realms connection was just bad. In a way was fluffy and made sense, but it wasn't the right kind of fluffy. Psionics was about celebrating the hidden human potential, with the far realm connection all that suddenly turned into damaged goods. And well have you paid attention to Lovecraft? Beyond "cool horror" factor his whole corpus is an essay on human madness, it is disturbing and reeks of despair and helplessness. Not the kind of emotions I want on my D&D.

The quirk/taboo system is ok. It is strictly for personality, for roleplay, without mechanical implications, and is explicitly ok to opt-out of, for players who feel it is less helpful. It encourages players to make up two of their own quirks.

The specific examples dont resonate with me.

But I can see certain mystics wanting to focus on a "crystal" − as one of their quirks − for some of their scrying powers. If need be, they can scry without the crystal, but all things being equal, they are comfortable focusing on the lustrousness of crystal as a meditation technique.

I can imagine a Brute Mystic caterwalling "Bruce Lee noises" before making an attack, as a quirk for concentration.

An other Mystic might want to say a blessing expressing gratitude for the opportunity to manifest a mental ideal into a physical reality, whenever performing a psionic discipline. The Mystic can do the discipline without the blessing, but wants to put the gratitude into words.

I still don't like them, they promote antisocial behaviors in game and they also promote the idea that wizards are the "right way" to dabble in the supernatural. Sorcerer? claws, wings, and even actual quirks of their own, Mystic? OCD and poor personal hygiene. Even if optional, these things have the bad habit of being persistent and later become mandatory. The stuff with dragons and sorcerers? it was a suggestion of a possible explanation for the magic in the blood, a suggestion, now unless you are fine with the random nature of the chaos, all sorcerers in core are scaly winged transhumans.

Wierd.
Why does the Avatar have access to do bonus healing when psionic healing is done, but none of the Avatar disciplines do any healing?
Why does the Soul Knife gain access to martial weapons? The whole point of that class is to use the psi-blades it gives you- not being able to wield a maul, halberd, greataxe, or something.

Overall I like it, it seems like it adds some cool ideas. But it still needs some work as there are clearly some things that don't really synergize with how the subclasses seem like they are supposed to work.

As far as I understand, mystics can choose any discipline, not just those from their own order. Except for bonus disciplines of course.

Ideally, I think I would ask players to create some preferred spells to speed up play coming up with a response to specific encounters when necessary. If they create them during the turns of others it shouldn't be too bad but the proof would be in testing it.

Actually, creating a "spellbook" of preferred spells could make those spells cheaper to use. I think this was an option in DL Saga.

Once a spellbook enters the picture you are not a sorcerer anymore IMO
 

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Yeah, I've had bad experiences with those systems. (GURPS, to be precise.) Hence the note.
Aside from an offhand non- system for improv in the original GURPS Magic, I didn't know it had anything of the sort.

I've had a blast with VPPs, and good experiences with Mage. Guess it's a case where system does matter...
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I'm not sure I agree with the calls to give the Mystic 13 pp powers and make them better at higher levels.

As someone pointed out, this is only an issue at 15th level and up, and by that time the Mystic (if we understand psyionic mastery correctly) can bust out multiple concentration effects worth up to 11 points 3 or 4 times a day.

I honestly think that could be more powerful than 1 8th or 9th level spell over the course of a day, and if we compare them more to Paladins and Rangers and Warlocks, Mystic seems to be in a really good spot. Maybe even too powerful at low levels.

I'm not saying they couldn't use something interesting, they kind of stop getting cool things between 15 and 19, but that could be said about Cleric, Druid, and Wizard as well so it becomes a bit 50/50
 

I still don't like them, they promote antisocial behaviors in game and they also promote the idea that wizards are the "right way" to dabble in the supernatural.
Rational study with a keen and disciplined intellect is generally best way to dabble in anything.

...now unless you are fine with the random nature of the chaos, all sorcerers in core are scaly winged transhumans.
Translation: not all sorcerers in core are scaly winged transhumans.
 

Translation: not all sorcerers in core are scaly winged transhumans.
Or she could have said "unless you're fine with being a scaly winged transhuman, all sorcerers are random chaos in nature." :shrug: Moonsong's statement was an accurate description of the class as presented in the PH. Your 'translation' could be misleading in that regard, and is incomplete, in describing only one of the two options. Don't quit your day job to take up translation full time, I'd say. ;P

Th 3.0 Sorcerer was presented with some fluff about draconic heritage and the iconic, Henef, I think it was, certainly went that way, but that bit was nothing more than how you described your character's appearance, something 3e explicitly left up to the player. So your sorcerer could be draconic, or elemental, or touched by fate, or whatever. The only thing, mechanically, that painted a picture of your 3e Sorcerer's powers was your spell choices. And, you had more spells/day than prepped casters, and could cast spontaneously, so you got to display those powers quite a bit. From the moment it was introduced, the Sorcerer let you build to quite a range of concepts. The 5e Sorcerer presents two possibilities, Draconic, or Chaos. Want more? Wait for a sub-class. Sub-classes are coming down the pike, but they'll never catch up with the build-to-concept flexibility of the comparatively elegant design of the 3e Sorcerer. In part, because everyone casts spontaneously now, but mostly because customization has been packaged in sub-classes. FWIW.
 
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cbwjm

Legend
The Far realms connection was just bad. In a way was fluffy and made sense, but it wasn't the right kind of fluffy. Psionics was about celebrating the hidden human potential, with the far realm connection all that suddenly turned into damaged goods. And well have you paid attention to Lovecraft? Beyond "cool horror" factor his whole corpus is an essay on human madness, it is disturbing and reeks of despair and helplessness. Not the kind of emotions I want on my D&D.



I still don't like them, they promote antisocial behaviors in game and they also promote the idea that wizards are the "right way" to dabble in the supernatural. Sorcerer? claws, wings, and even actual quirks of their own, Mystic? OCD and poor personal hygiene. Even if optional, these things have the bad habit of being persistent and later become mandatory. The stuff with dragons and sorcerers? it was a suggestion of a possible explanation for the magic in the blood, a suggestion, now unless you are fine with the random nature of the chaos, all sorcerers in core are scaly winged transhumans.



As far as I understand, mystics can choose any discipline, not just those from their own order. Except for bonus disciplines of course.



Once a spellbook enters the picture you are not a sorcerer anymore IMO
It fits well for a Dragonlance style sorcerer. They were more analytical and reasoned in their approach to sorcery, researching and studying its power. They weren't like the 3e sorcerers and their powers were based on the reason code. If I ever played Dragonlance in 3e, I would have made sorcerers main stat intelligence.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
As someone pointed out, this is only an issue at 15th level and up, and by that time the Mystic (if we understand psyionic mastery correctly) can bust out multiple concentration effects worth up to 11 points 3 or 4 times a day.

I honestly think that could be more powerful than 1 8th or 9th level spell over the course of a day, and if we compare them more to Paladins and Rangers and Warlocks, Mystic seems to be in a really good spot. Maybe even too powerful at low levels.

Psionic Mastery is substandard. The current Mystic cannot access 11 point powers. Instead what it does is spam 7 point powers and lower.

Despite being a fullcaster upto level 9, the Mystic class shuts down at level 10. From that level up, it is gimped, for no reason.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
This is what a fullcaster progression looks like. Basically, they must be able to access the higher level spells for more impacting effects, at the appropriate levels. At the same time, they generally cast their highest level spell once.

Code:
[FONT=Courier New]Wizard    Spell Level                  (Total points)
Level     6th   7th   8th   9th

11        1                              9 points
13        1     1                        19 points (9+10)
15        1     1     1                  30 points (9+10+11)
17        1     1     1     1            43 points (9+10+11+13)
19        2     1     1     1            ...
[/FONT]

Basically, the full caster needs a 9th level spell slot at level 17. (It seems to me, the extra 6th level spell slot gained at level 19 is less significant in the context of the higher level spells, so less important for balance, and some other feature could easily substitute it. So we are focusing on what the fullcaster can do at level 17.)
 

MarkB

Legend
This is what a fullcaster progression looks like. Basically, they must be able to access the higher level spells for more impacting effects, at the appropriate levels. At the same time, they generally cast their highest level spell once.

Code:
[FONT=Courier New]Wizard    Spell Level                  (Total points)
Level     6th   7th   8th   9th

11        1                              9 points
13        1     1                        19 points (9+10)
15        1     1     1                  30 points (9+10+11)
17        1     1     1     1            43 points (9+10+11+13)
19        2     1     1     1            ...
[/FONT]

Basically, the full caster needs a 9th level spell slot at level 17. (It seems to me, the extra 6th level spell slot gained at level 19 is less significant in the context of the higher level spells, so less important for balance, and some other feature could easily substitute it. So we are focusing on what the fullcaster can do at level 17.)

The tricky part is that other full casters only get that one slot. A Mystic could potentially sink all their daily psi points into 9th-level-equivalent discipline effects.
 

cbwjm

Legend
The tricky part is that other full casters only get that one slot. A Mystic could potentially sink all their daily psi points into 9th-level-equivalent discipline effects.
I feel like they are trying not to arbitrarily restrict mystics as theyear do with the spell point variant where they can only spend points to cast a single spell of 6th to 9th level. That would take away from supposed versatility of the mystic so they've capped it at 5th level equivalent effects.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
With balance in mind, here is a proposal for Psionic Mastery.


PSIONIC MASTERY
Level 11: You gain 9 special ‘mastery’ points, that are in a pool that is separate from the main pool of normal points.

Each discipline includes master level powers, that cost 9 points, 10 points, 11 points, or 13 points. Only mastery points can be used to manifest master powers. You cannot use normal points to master them.

If you use mastery points to manifest powers whose durations are simultaneous with each other, you can concentrate on all of them.

You can spend normal points to replenish your mastery points, but each time you do so, the mastery point total reduces by 1 point. For instance, you use your 9 mastery points to manifest a 9-point master power. When you replenish your mastery points you can only do so up to 8 mastery points total. Later you replenish your mastery points, but only up to 7 mastery points total. And so on. At each long rest, your mastery points return to your original total.

Level 13: Your mastery point total increases to 10. You can use them to manifest a 10 point power.
Level 15: Your mastery point total increases to 11. You can use them to manifest an 11 point power.
Level 17: Your mastery point total increases to 13. You can use them to manifest a 13 point power.




Something like that. This prevents spamming of 9th-level abilities. There are other creative ways to juggle the numbers − and maybe simpler − but these are the numbers in play for a full caster.










This is what a fullcaster progression looks like. Basically, they must be able to access the higher level spells for more impacting effects, at the appropriate levels. At the same time, they generally cast their highest level spell once.

Code:
[FONT=Courier New]Wizard    Spell Level                   (Total points)
Level     6th   7th   8th   9th

11        1                              9 points
13        1     1                        19 points (9+10)
15        1     1     1                  30 points (9+10+11)
17        1     1     1     1            43 points (9+10+11+13)
19        2     1     1     1            ...
[/FONT]

Basically, the full caster needs a 9th level spell slot at level 17. (It seems to me, the extra 6th level spell slot gained at level 19 is less significant in the context of the higher level spells, so less important for balance, and some other feature could easily substitute it. So we are focusing on what the fullcaster can do at level 17.)
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Here is an attempt to simplify Psionic Mastery. The basic idea is, you get one slot to manifest your highest mastery power, once per long rest. Additionally, you get a second slot to manifest a less-than-highest mastery power, once per short rest. This allows lesser mastery powers several times a day, depending on short rests, but not too many at once.


PSIONIC MASTERY
Each discipline includes mastery powers. A mastery power is a power that costs 9 points or more to manifest. Only the Psionic Mastery feature can manifest a mastery power. You cannot use normal points to manifest one.

Level 11: You can manifest one 9-point mastery power after each long rest.
Level 13: The mastery power that you manifest after each long rest increases to 10 points.
Additionally, you can manifest one 9-point mastery power after each long or short rest.
Level 15: The mastery power that you manifest after each long rest increases to 11 points, and the one that you manifest after each long or short rest increases to 10 points.
Level 17: The mastery power that you manifest after each long rest increases to 13 points, and the one that you manifest after each long or short rest increases to 11 points.

Psionic Mastery comprises two slots that improve while leveling. One slot is per long rest. The other is per short rest.
 
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MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Rational study with a keen and disciplined intellect is generally best way to dabble in anything
Not really. There are many disciplines that require a keen mind, but a lot that don't. Or even when it is counterproductive. Music, languages, drawing, painting, carving, even some religious and esoteric pursuits are more about other things than straight intelligence. Like drawing, hand-eye coordination and sensibility are key, while some intellectual analysis can help, it is at best a crutch and at worst prevents you from reaching realism, expression and fluidity.

.
Translation: not all sorcerers in core are scaly winged transhumans.
My point was that a minor fluffy element that was something between a suggestion and a shrug -some, not most or many, sorcerers claim or are claimed to have dragon blood. Out of them there are only a few for which that might be true, and even then it cannot be proven or disproven- crept up into becoming a major part of the class in the collective consciousness and back into the game. Anybody with working eyes can confirm that a dragon sorcerer indeed is descended from dragons, and it is the most accessible sorcerer variant since the other phb option is contentious, unreliable and potentially disruptive. I don't like the idea of that happening with psionics and their quirks. Elements like that risk overshadowing the class and become everything they are known for. Exactly like the Wu Jen and their taboos. Do you really want that for all of psionics? That the mystic vecomes known as " those smelly hobos with neon hair and imaginaty friends"?

It fits well for a Dragonlance style sorcerer. They were more analytical and reasoned in their approach to sorcery, researching and studying its power. They weren't like the 3e sorcerers and their powers were based on the reason code. If I ever played Dragonlance in 3e, I would have made sorcerers main stat intelligence.

High sorcery was a prestige class.
 
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cbwjm

Legend
High sorcery was a prestige class.

High sorcery refers to wizardry, specifically the magic of the wizards who draw power from the moons if magic. It does not refer to sorcerers in Dragonlance who came about in the age of mortals when the gods were gone. These sorcerers tapped into wild magic and studied and categorised it, after all, many of them used to be wizards of high sorcery who were learning how to use this form of magic.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Psionic Mastery is substandard. The current Mystic cannot access 11 point powers. Instead what it does is spam 7 point powers and lower.

Despite being a fullcaster upto level 9, the Mystic class shuts down at level 10. From that level up, it is gimped, for no reason.


Does it need 11 point powers though?

Let’s take the elemental masteries. Grab force and fire, pop Psionic Mastery (with the assumption it is a single action to create the points, and activate all powers that use those points) summon a fire elemental and a use force grasp to hold the creature in place for the elemental to attack and sit on, then your last point could be used to deal a 1d6 of damage with crush or some other 1 point ability. Then bonus action to gain 11 hp.

That’s a pretty powerful single turn. You have 3 more uses of that set up or something similar per day. And I am assured there are better combos than that out there, that was just what I scrolled and found in a few moments.

Do we need an 11 point power when you have options like that? I’ve often been told breaking the action economy is the single most powerful thing a class could do, and this shatters that and the concentration limit (if we are understanding it correctly)

I agree it is odd that they don’t really gain a lot of stuff past level 10 or 11. But, fighter is the same way. They don’t gain new abilities after 9 in the main class, just more of the same.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Does it need 11 point powers though?

Yes. A full caster needs access to 9-point powers and higher. The current Mystic only has access to 7-point powers and nothing higher. It is broken.

I dont know if you are familiar with the issues of the 3e Sorcerer class, but its lack of access to higher level spells, and only spamming lower level spells was a huge problem. It was palpably underpowered at the highest levels. And the fan base found it endlessly frustrating. The current Mystic seems much more underpowered than even the 3e Sorcerer was.

Eventually, 4e and 5e fixed the problem.

5e made both the Sorcerer and the Bard fullcasters with normal access to high level spells, in order to avoid the problem of previous editions.

At present, a difficulty of the Mystic is figuring out how to use the point system in a robustly balanced way. Whatever way works for the Mystic, will also be used to keep the Wizard class balanced, when it uses points to cast spells.

The solution is necessary for all fullcasters that use points. The Mystic is the design space to make this work well.
 

Not really. There are many disciplines that require a keen mind, but a lot that don't. Or even when it is counterproductive. Music, languages, drawing, painting, carving, even some religious and esoteric pursuits are more about other things than straight intelligence. Like drawing, hand-eye coordination and sensibility are key, while some intellectual analysis can help, it is at best a crutch and at worst prevents you from reaching realism, expression and fluidity.
A "crutch"? That's not simply mistaken, it's downright offensive to all the hard work that artists put into mastering their craft. The pages and pages of notebook Leonardo da Vinci filled with studies of human anatomy, botany, engineering, and everything else under the sun sure as hell didn't "prevent him from reaching realism, expression, and fluidity". Those notebooks, and the thousands of hours of intellectual effort they represent, are what separate the creator of Mona Lisa from the average dime-a-dozen-on-DeviantArt scribbler who thinks he doesn't need lessons or practice because he's got feelings.
 

AaronOfBarbaria

Adventurer
A full caster needs access to 9-point powers and higher. The current Mystic only has access to 7-point powers and nothing higher. It is broken.
Can you illustrate why you feel access to 9-point powers and higher is necessary? And while doing so, could you elaborate upon what a 9-point or higher power should look like in your opinion?

I ask because a number of the features of psionic disciplines seem more potent to me than their equivalent spell level, if assuming a 1:1 ratio of potency between psi points and the optional spell point rules, would be. I assumed that slight increase of potency was intentional as a means to create a balance between point-based-psionics and slot-based-spell-casting, while avoiding arbitrary and easy to forget limiters like "but you can only use a power that costs 9 points once per day". So it seems, without any explanation given, that you are saying "It is broken" because it doesn't follow the pattern you want/expect, rather than because there is actually something that doesn't work while playing the class as-is.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I dont know if you are familiar with the issues of the 3e Sorcerer class, but its lack of access to higher level spells, and only spamming lower level spells was a huge problem. It was palpably underpowered at the highest levels. And the fan base found it endlessly frustrating. The current Mystic seems much more underpowered than even the 3e Sorcerer was.
Palpably underpowered? Sorcerers are a tier 2 class in 3e. I mean, they aren't as good as wizards or clerics, but very little is.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Yes. A full caster needs access to 9-point powers and higher. The current Mystic only has access to 7-point powers and nothing higher. It is broken.

I dont know if you are familiar with the issues of the 3e Sorcerer class, but its lack of access to higher level spells, and only spamming lower level spells was a huge problem. It was palpably underpowered at the highest levels. And the fan base found it endlessly frustrating. The current Mystic seems much more underpowered than even the 3e Sorcerer was.

I'm not familiar with 3.x sorcerer in actual play, but I think I'm not phrasing my point terribly well.

If Psionic Mastery works the way I think it does, Mystics get access to their best abilities faster than any other full caster in the game. And those combos are incredibly powerful.

Also, getting higher level powers that are only accessible with those mastery points does seem to create a few more layers of complexity. Would every power then need an 9 pp, 11 pp, and 13 pp ability added? Some of them don't even have 7 pp abilities. This could potentially end up unbalancing the disciplines more than they might already be.

And I'm not convinced access to 9th level equivalent abilities is absolutely necessary


On an unrelated question

Mastery of Force: Move allows you to pick up objects and drop them on people. Would you also allow the same style of attack if they shoved the object into the person directly?

I know a few players who would be more than ecstatic to do some Poltergeisting
 

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