D&D 5E Aberrant Mind Psionic Spell Help (for CoS campaign)

WASDHammer

Explorer
Hey everyone,

I'm playing a CoS campaign for the first time and decided to roll an Aberrant Mind Sorcerer. I love the flavor of the subclass but am really struggling with what to keep on my Psionic Spell List.

I am entering an existing group at level 6 as the primary arcane spellcaster (other party members are a rogue, cleric, druid/barbarian MC, and a Samurai fighter).

As of now, I am planning the following:

Level 1: Dissonant Whisper, Tasha's Hideous Laughter (from Arms of Hadar)
Level 2: Calm Emotions, Suggestion (from Detect Thoughts); considering adding Detect Thoughts back in on my Sorcerer spell list
Level 3: Hunger of Hadar, Sending
Level 4: Arcane Eye (from Evard's Black Tentacles), Summon Aberration
Level 5: Modify Memory (from Rary's Telepathic Bond), Telekinesis

My specific questions are these:
  • Is it worth keeping Calm Emotions at all? I have never done CoS but heard many things are immune to charm. So would only benefit be to temporarily remove charms on my own party? Is that WAY TOO niche to keep in CoS?
  • Is it worth keeping a spell slot for Detect Thoughts? Is burning a 2nd level spell slot worth reading surface memories with certainty vs. just doing an insight check?
  • Are there other spells I should be considering that I am not?

Thanks!
 

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A couple of points:

  • Vampires have been known to charm their victims...
  • In my experience Detect Thoughts mostly gets used to detect invisible enemies.
  • In my experience Telepathic Bond sees more use than Modify Memory.
  • Raulothim's Psychic Lance (Fizban's) is a great spell, and eligible for the psionic list.
  • There are lots of frightening enemies in Ravenloft...
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
My specific questions are these:
  • Is it worth keeping Calm Emotions at all? I have never done CoS but heard many things are immune to charm. So would only benefit be to temporarily remove charms on my own party? Is that WAY TOO niche to keep in CoS?

As someone DM'ing CoS right now, I would say this is a great ability to have. Without giving too much away, there are plenty of potential interactions where an entire town may riot against the players, grabbing their pitchforks and whatnot. This is especially true if your party consists on non-human characters (anything besides human are treated with disdain and suspicion, if not outright fear or aggression). Plus, there is no shortage of enemies that could charm or frighten the players. I'd say if you took the spell, you might not use it a lot, but you'll be glad you have it when you use it.

  • Is it worth keeping a spell slot for Detect Thoughts? Is burning a 2nd level spell slot worth reading surface memories with certainty vs. just doing an insight check?

Detect Thoughts is a very useful spell. While it can easily detect surface thoughts, you could use an action to probe deeper and get more information. Also, it's great for interrogation. If you ask a creature questions or direct comments at them while under the influence of this spell, they don't have to say anything for such questions/statements to trigger deeper memories to become more surface level thoughts. I am playing a character right now that used it to great effect while fighting a monster to learn what it was planning and it's ultimate goals, information that would have otherwise never come up for our group (especially since that monster was killed in combat and thus couldn't be questioned afterwards).

  • Are there other spells I should be considering that I am not?

Thanks!

Hypnotic Pattern is an awesome spell! Few spells of that level can offer greater control over potential combatants. While it is an illusion spell, it can easily be reskinned as an enchantment spell fitting for a psionic character, or even as starring into the void as it stares back.
 

jgsugden

Legend
...
Level 1: Dissonant Whisper, Tasha's Hideous Laughter (from Arms of Hadar)
Level 2: Calm Emotions, Suggestion (from Detect Thoughts); considering adding Detect Thoughts back in on my Sorcerer spell list
Level 3: Hunger of Hadar, Sending
Level 4: Arcane Eye (from Evard's Black Tentacles), Summon Aberration
Level 5: Modify Memory (from Rary's Telepathic Bond), Telekinesis
My list for my Aberrant Mind Sorcerer is similar to yours, except:

Level 1: I ran sleep instead of Tasha's for a while before swapping in Silvery Barbs (from the new Strixhaven book). I used that sleep spell quite well through level 7.

Level 2: Detect Thoughts has been huge for me in a game with political/scheming, as has Suggestion. For suggestion, talk to the DM about how it works in his game with Psionic Sorcery. Is the verbal suggestion part of the spell casting, or can you deliver it with Telepathic Speech?

Level 3: I enjoy casting Enemies Abound (from XGtE) over Hunger of Hadar. There have been quite a few times where suddenly enraging an NPC or monster has been very interesting.

Level 4: Summon Aberration is great - keep it. That beholder option is a great scout, artillery, etc... I go with Charm Monster for my other 4th level spell as it does not require concentration, but has long term effects. Being able to cast it without speaking also increases the effectiveness of it and allows you to try it more easily outside combat. However, another contender to consider is from Fizban's - Raulothim's Psychic Lance. It is less damage at fireball and only a single target, but fewer creatures resist psychic, and incapacitating for a turn is a major boon, and fewer creatures have great intelligence saving throws. I think there are three outstanding options here, although Arcane Eye is not bad at all.

Level 5: Modify Memory and Hold Monster are my choices here. Dominate Person is also good, as is Telekenisis.

My advice is to consider concentration limits carefully. It is very easy to end up with so many concetration spells that you don't end up using them all because you end up useing only a couple concentration spells over and over. I have very few concentration spells in my main sorcerer spells because of this challenge, and the ones I do have are primarily non-combat or pre-combat spells (like Invisibility).
 
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TheSword

Legend
I’m surprised Tasha’s Mind Whip isn’t on there. I’ve found it a consistently useful spell and a nice one to twin.

Intelligence is a consistently low save, nice little damage and a solid debuff for a round.
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
My advice is to consider concentration limits carefully. It is very easy to end up with so many concetration spells that you don't end up using them all because you end up useing only a couple concentration spells over and over. I have very few concentration spells in my main sorcerer spells because of this challenge, and the ones I do have are primarily non-combat or pre-combat spells (like Invisibility).

This is really great and important advice. I have a character I'm playing now that suffers from this very issue. It gets frustrating.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I’m surprised Tasha’s Mind Whip isn’t on there. I’ve found it a consistently useful spell and a nice one to twin.
3d6 damage for a second level spell is low damage, and as it focuses on one target it is further reduced in utlity. As we get Mind Sliver for a free cantrip and it also targets intelligence, and deals as much damage as the second level spell at level 11, I find the Whip to not be worth the slot.

If I want raw damage, I look to other spells, like fireball. One reason is that IU want my psionic spells to be ones that I can use subtly without others knowing I did it - while damaging someone is almost always going to be obvious.

It would be a different story if the whip actually stopped an action, but as the foe still gets to take their action, it isn't usually enough of a benefit.

All that being said - a good team can use this to shut down an enemy. Mind Whip, allies run in, hit, then retreat. Enemy turn comes up and it can either move towards the enemies, or attack ... but not both. If they have no ranged capability, this is a rinse and repeat for a kill. However, in play, it isn't quite that simple most of the time. Room sizes, OAs from other creatures, etc... limit your options, here.
 

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