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

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.

Why should we assume the mystic should be a full caster? There are half caster classes. If it was just going to be a wizard with another name, they could have made a wizard subclass.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
Why should we assume the mystic should be a full caster? There are half caster classes. If it was just going to be a wizard with another name, they could have made a wizard subclass.
The assumption seems to stem from the status of the psion (i.e., the master of psionic powers) as a "full caster" in 3x. I don't particularly care either way, but suggesting that the mystic be a full-caster probably should not be equated as saying "a wizard with another name" any more than other full casters in 5e are a wizard with another name. But against Yaarel's argument, I would say that the difficulty arises from how the mechanics of the 5e Mystic class, as intended, must balance a variety of different past psionic archetypes within itself: e.g., ardent, soulknife, psychic warrior, etc. Not all of these were "full casters." Of course, there are examples of full-casters gish features as part of the subclass: e.g., valor bard, war/tempest/death cleric, bladelock, or even the bladesinger wizard. So it is not as if being "gish," at least in the case of the psychic warrior archetype, is incompatible with being a fullcaster in 5e.
 

Waterbizkit

Explorer
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

So this UA is a big one and I'm still digesting it before I really form my opinions on it, but I figured this would be pretty quick to respond to.

Speaking for myself, I'd basically allow it to work, or at least narrate it, as objects being flung at enemies rather than being dropped on them depending on the specifics of the object and the area where combat is taking place. Recall that while the power specifies a maximum size and a maximum weight, the latter based on the number of points spent, the power at no point specifies a minimum for either. As written, and thus is my interpretation of course, there's nothing stopping the Mystic from dropping say... a dagger on the ground and then spending seven points to "drop" it on an enemy for 8d6 damage. And I'm okay with this. Others may have differing opinions of course.

Anyway, I like this UA for the most part. I like calling it a Mystic instead of a Psion. I like the overall lack of pseudo-science terminology. I like the removal of the Far Realm as a baked-in piece of fluff. And I didn't mind that stuff to begin with, especially the first two, but without it it's just as good.

I don't mind that Mystics have the extreme versatility that they do. I don't mind that none of them get extra attack. And I don't mind that they're essentially half-casters, I don't believe they need access to higher level powers.

There are a few things that need some clarification and rebalancing, but overall I like what I see. That's basically it in a nutshell since I don't have the time or inclination to get much more detailed than that.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Mystics do not need to duplicate the other spell progressions. I suggest people gather in groups of 6. One is DM and designs a one shot adventure for 15th level PCs. Then the rest make 15th level PCs: Fighter, cleric, wizard, rogue and mystic. Try it out and see how it runs. This is play test material after all.

The ability to run several concentration abilities at a time is a good replacement for a small number of high level abilities/spells. Even if, after testing, you conclude it is not as powerful, it is still unique, interesting and certainly in the right ballpark.
 

Thinking about Psionic Mastery, one of the issues I saw is that many effects have their cost limited to 7 points. Another thing that mastery could have is some sort of "metamagic" like extra to apply disciplines, like more targets or greater area of effect.
 

raleel

Explorer
It's probably been mentioned in here, but probably worth saying again - the mystic has several abilities which enable the use of reactions by one or more party members. If you have a party without a lot of reliable reactions, that's a pretty strong win. Very much a sea change in the action economy.
 

Barolo

First Post
Thinking about Psionic Mastery, one of the issues I saw is that many effects have their cost limited to 7 points. Another thing that mastery could have is some sort of "metamagic" like extra to apply disciplines, like more targets or greater area of effect.

To me, Psionic Mastery seems to be all about doing your own custom mental stunt. I does not need metamagic-like extras, as Psionic Mastery is already a mix of quicken and something else that allows for multiple concentration.

I really like that psionic powers were restricted to the equivalent of 5th level spells, as the greatest psionic powers of old were limited in effect to something similar to that. And it is refreshing to see a different path to achieve effects adequate for the higher levels of gameplay, with customizable packages of lower power effects. Moreover, I am not sure how is it relevant for Psionic Mastery that some psionic effects are limited to 7 points, when the mystic can simply activate multiple damaging powers at once and just focus fire, if all one really cares is do a lot of damage.

Anyhow, the mystic does not seem to me a very efficient damage dealer overall, which is something I like. Surely they can go nova for some impressive single target stunts, but they don't seem to actually perform better than other nova-builds already available, and to even reach this higher nova potential, it is just too many power points wasted, as the individual powers are quite underwhelming, cost-to-damage wise. The mystic will perform better throughout the adventuring day by going a little slower in pace, doing a lot of tactical stuff, locking down single powerful individuals, messing up with enemies minds, playing with positioning and battlefield control through telekinesis, all that fun stuff.

As a side note, the capacity to absorb damage from a immortal is really impressive. Also, their penchant for self-sufficiency is a nice touch. The fact that the are MAD seems to be on purpose, so to give the player interesting choices about focusing on offense, defense or a more balanced build.
 


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.
The 3e Sorcerer got spell through 9th level, just 1 level later than the prepped caster. Are you maybe thinking of the 3e Bard that was full-caster-level, but only got up to, IIRC, 6th level spells?

Why should we assume the mystic should be a full caster? There are half caster classes. If it was just going to be a wizard with another name, they could have made a wizard subclass.
OT1H, it's not a caster, at all, OTOH, it's the only psionic class, so it should be fully-psionic, not half-psionic (which could be left to MCing until half- or 1/3rd- psionic sub-classes start popping up in other classes).
 
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Ben Hodgson

First Post
Why should we assume the mystic should be a full caster? There are half caster classes. If it was just going to be a wizard with another name, they could have made a wizard subclass.

It is a full-caster (or full-psi-user or whatever) though. Certainly up to 9th level. It's throwing Detonations at the same time as wizards are throwing Fireballs. It tops out at 7-point power at 9th level, just when full casters are getting the equivalent 5th level spells.

It's not a ranger or a paladin topping out with 5th level spells at 17th level; it progresses just as fast as a full caster until it stops.

Clearly Psionic Mastery is meant to serve as a replacement to 6th-9th level spells, just as Mystic Arcanum does for Warlocks. Whether it's up to snuff or not I'd need to playtest it to find out, but it's clearly intended to.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
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.

No need to get personal. I'm fairly aware I'm a talentless hack if not broderline failure. Leonardo is annecdote, he was a genius for a reason, yet I wouldn't consider his corpus as purely or even mostly intelectual. His sketches, his drawings show a great deal ot perceptiveness and ingenuity. All that attention to detail wasn't intellectual. And I wouldn't hold him as the prime example of discipline. The Mona Lisa for example remains incomplete as he worked on and off on it over the years until his death. He pioneered a lot of techniques but mostly so he could work on and off on stuff.

But one of the first lessons when you start to train is to turn off the rational part of the brain, because the more your brain is working, the worse you are doing. IE. There are tons of geometric methods, but in the end you gotta observe and use your sensibility to know if it is right or you should deviate. Observation is key only with it you can find the picture you want to find and 'know' just how much color and how much shadow you need for it.
 

zaratan

First Post
Psionic mastery looks underpowered to me too. Not just about the 11 instead of 13 points, but you need an action to get the pool, than you need more actions/bonus actions to spend that. You probably want to use concentration disciplines to take real advantage of psionic mastery, but you'll need at least 3 actions/bonus actions, this can reach even 4 or 5. And when you compare the effect of 11 psi points together, consuming 3 action with a lvl 7+ spell that cost just one action, well, we can't even compare.
I don't see a problem to stay with only 11 psi points, but would be great if you could use just one action to activate more than one discipline. Restrict the number of disciplines you can use in that case would be a good idea (2 at lvl 11, 3 at 13, 4 at 17)

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Xeviat

Hero
I now don't think they should add higher point effects to each discipline. Why? Because then they'd have 10 options for 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th level effects. Now, they could use the scaling damage effects to go above 7, but 13d10 would not be efficient damage at 17th level.


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No need to get personal.
I'm sorry. Believe me, that wasn't directed at you personally. I've never seen your work, and it'd be pretty ripe of me to cast aspersions at someone who might be the next Leonardo for all I know. And if you're self-critical enough to think you might be the sort of person I was talking about, you're definitely not the sort of person I was talking about. Those who have the strength to critique themselves honestly can never truly be failures, because they can always find ways to improve.

I'm going to hold off on the extended discussion of the nature of genius that I'm itching for, on account of it's wildly off-topic. But I did feel that I owed you this apology.
 

Barolo

First Post
Psionic mastery looks underpowered to me too. Not just about the 11 instead of 13 points, but you need an action to get the pool, than you need more actions/bonus actions to spend that. You probably want to use concentration disciplines to take real advantage of psionic mastery, but you'll need at least 3 actions/bonus actions, this can reach even 4 or 5. And when you compare the effect of 11 psi points together, consuming 3 action with a lvl 7+ spell that cost just one action, well, we can't even compare.
I don't see a problem to stay with only 11 psi points, but would be great if you could use just one action to activate more than one discipline. Restrict the number of disciplines you can use in that case would be a good idea (2 at lvl 11, 3 at 13, 4 at 17)

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That's interesting. The way I read it, I understood that the mystic can spend an action to access the pool and activate the power package, all at once. Otherwise, it would be really quite underwhelming, to spend so many combat rounds trying to activate lower level powers one by one. If trying to activate multiple non-concentration powers, why not just use the common PSPs? And if trying to activate multiple concentration powers, by the time whatever the mystic planned is finally online, the battle might as well be over already.

If I understood correctly, it would work as a multipurpose power activated all at once, at the same moment the mystic uses their action to gain the special PSPs. The way psionic powers are, limited compared to higher level spells, it would give a lot of flexibility, but at a somewhat limited ceiling. And I am quite ok with the idea of 11 points, equivalent in price to 8th level spells, as they get four of them per day. So, not as many as a 9th level spell sounds reasonable.

I've being toying with the powers a little bit, and so far I have not managed to find a combo as powerful as the higher level spells. Considering it is really fun to mix in whatever looks good for the occasion, and the fact that it feels like always having a useful tool for different circumstances, the lack of raw power really seems a fair tradeoff.



I now don't think they should add higher point effects to each discipline. Why? Because then they'd have 10 options for 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th level effects. Now, they could use the scaling damage effects to go above 7, but 13d10 would not be efficient damage at 17th level.


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Exactly. The class as a whole is not really great for damage, unless someone is willing to burn action, bonus action, reaction, and a lot of PSPs all at once, which feels really wasteful compared to all the other nice stuff mystics get. Dealing damage is just too resource-intensive for mystics.
 

Xeviat

Hero
Exactly. The class as a whole is not really great for damage, unless someone is willing to burn action, bonus action, reaction, and a lot of PSPs all at once, which feels really wasteful compared to all the other nice stuff mystics get. Dealing damage is just too resource-intensive for mystics.

Interestingly, I've been thinking about Mystic damage. I'm writing up a big analysis right now, and one thing I dislike is how cantrips nearly invalidate many 1-4 PP effects eventually. So, my thought is that damage dealing powers that take an action should likely get +1 damage die at levels 5, 11, and 17. This wouldn't help much, but it would make sure that a 1 pp damage effect was always better than a talent.

I'm really surprised that the disciplines don't come with a paired talent. He Mystic gets too few talents. This could have helped.


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That's interesting. The way I read it, I understood that the mystic can spend an action to access the pool and activate the power package, all at once. Otherwise, it would be really quite underwhelming, to spend so many combat rounds trying to activate lower level powers one by one. If trying to activate multiple non-concentration powers, why not just use the common PSPs? And if trying to activate multiple concentration powers, by the time whatever the mystic planned is finally online, the battle might as well be over already.
It's certainly my interpretation that the action to activate psionic mastery is also the action to use the discipline effects. But the wording doesn't seem to be that clear.
 

zaratan

First Post
That's interesting. The way I read it, I understood that the mystic can spend an action to access the pool and activate the power package, all at once. Otherwise, it would be really quite underwhelming, to spend so many combat rounds trying to activate lower level powers one by one. If trying to activate multiple non-concentration powers, why not just use the common PSPs? And if trying to activate multiple concentration powers, by the time whatever the mystic planned is finally online, the battle might as well be over already.

If I understood correctly, it would work as a multipurpose power activated all at once, at the same moment the mystic uses their action to gain the special PSPs. The way psionic powers are, limited compared to higher level spells, it would give a lot of flexibility, but at a somewhat limited ceiling. And I am quite ok with the idea of 11 points, equivalent in price to 8th level spells, as they get four of them per day. So, not as many as a 9th level spell sounds reasonable.

I've being toying with the powers a little bit, and so far I have not managed to find a combo as powerful as the higher level spells. Considering it is really fun to mix in whatever looks good for the occasion, and the fact that it feels like always having a useful tool for different circumstances, the lack of raw power really seems a fair tradeoff.

First time I read, I was thinking the same, than many questions about how can I abuse some effects or order of effects solving start to pop in my mind. I questioned if I was reading it right. Just to be sure I asked to Jeremy Crawford and got the most disappointed answer: https://twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/843204145767100416

Obviously this was my biggest critic in survey. Trigger multiple effects with only one action is how this should work!

I can understand that is an abuse I use 3 times 1 psi point Hammer of Inquisition in one target (just to be sure that he'll fail in one), than use Punishing Fury and Shadow Beasts all with one action. Or whirlwind to change all positions, Push, to push two enemis that resisted to the area and than blast Psychic Crush. But in fact, even so, isn't as powerful as a level 8 spell.
If Psionic Mastery work with only one action, would be great and fun to use it, but isn't overpowered at all.

I think that the 1-7 psi effects should add damage in talents (as happen with weapon ones), instead of only do damage. Is hard to burn 5 psi points to do 5d10 when you could do 4d10+5 for 0.
probably 1 psi point would give just the effect, no damage add, at 2 would be +1 dice, and so.
 

bganon

Explorer
The Talents are all "save for zero damage", whereas the ranged blasty discipline powers are almost all "save for half damage", so it's not like you get nothing for spending power points. And by the time Talents are dealing 3 or 4 dice, the Mystic has 64 power points (+9 Mastery points per day at 11th, +44 at 17th), so it's not like spending a few to outdamage a Talent is much of a loss.

But I agree that the list of Talents seems rather short.
 

Xeviat

Hero
The Talents are all "save for zero damage", whereas the ranged blasty discipline powers are almost all "save for half damage", so it's not like you get nothing for spending power points. And by the time Talents are dealing 3 or 4 dice, the Mystic has 64 power points (+9 Mastery points per day at 11th, +44 at 17th), so it's not like spending a few to outdamage a Talent is much of a loss.

But I agree that the list of Talents seems rather short.

That's very true, but it would be an odd situation where 1 pp for a guarantee of maybe half a d10 of damage would be game affecting.


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