Everything wrong with the Wizard Psionics subclass

The new Psionic subclass for Wizards in the current UA is easily the most half-done and ill-considered UA I've seen so far, which is saying something, as UA has ranged between brilliant and pretty awful. It reads like "My boss told me to do this so I will just hurry through it and not think about it much to get it done!", yet it is being proposed to essentially replace what was in 2E through 4E, an entire class.


I'm going to break down all the things wrong with it.

1. Psionic Focus - Why is this not replacing your spellbook at least? Why the damage focus on a traditionally utility-focused concept?

2. Psionic Devotion - Why pick one? This stuff is core to the idea of being Psionic, so why are you Psionic some of the time but not most of the time? We will see this theme recur, sadly.

3. Thought Form - What the heck? That isn't a thing. That's never been a thing. They shove the ability to cast without components, a key Psionic concept, into a sub-ability of a high powered, flashy and totally unnecessary defensive ability. Terrible.

4. Mental Discipline - Continues the theme of "I'm psychic, but only some of the time!", by letting you select one of three spells to actually work like a Psionic power.

5. Empowered Psionics - Continues the bizarre damage fixation, and is also almost entirely meaningless in amount! Awesome!

6. Thought Travel - No. We have spells or powers for this. This is inappropriate and takes the place of something actually Psionics-y.

7. Psionic Spells - Not actually a power or descriptor or anything, just a list of suggestions. This is not even homebrew level stuff. It's genuinely sad and a bit embarrassing to see if a WotC UA.

I have never seen a UA before which made me feel bad for the writer and cringe a little bit, but this managed it. It's so uncommited, so half-done, so lacking in thought that I feel bad for everyone involved. And worry for the future of 5E a bit. Is this really the result of 6+ years of iterating on Psionics!?

I will of course give my thoughts to WotC in the next survey but wow, just wow...
 

Coroc

Adventurer
Totally agree, when there was no idea around on how to do a psionic you could eventually use a reskinned wizard or sorcerer for psionic, but versus this UA I prefer the UA33 a long time. They should have built up on that instead of these failing new idea.
 

dave2008

Legend
Would it be acceptable if it was not intended to replace a Psion class? Personally I like the idea of subclasses that allow part time psionics and then a class for those you want a 100% Psion.
 
Would it be acceptable if it was not intended to replace a Psion class? Personally I like the idea of subclasses that allow part time psionics and then a class for those you want a 100% Psion.
I think it makes no sense as a partially Psionic Wizard either, because the mechanics are confused and inappropriate. You could definitely do a Wizard with a side of Psionics, but that wasn't achieved here.
 
Would it be acceptable if it was not intended to replace a Psion class? Personally I like the idea of subclasses that allow part time psionics and then a class for those you want a 100% Psion.
No, not in this form. "Psionic Spells" is not acceptable for any subclass. Leave the fluff to the player, the subclass should be all about crunch.

The list of psychic spells, gated behind a feat/race/subrace, would be acceptable to add a psychic wild talent to a regular spellcaster.
 
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1. Psionic Focus - ... Why the damage focus on a traditionally utility-focused concept?
5. Empowered Psionics - Continues the bizarre damage fixation, and is also almost entirely meaningless in amount! Awesome!
5e balances itself around single-target DPR over the course of a 6-8 encounter/2-3 short-rest 'day.' So an initial pass is likely to consider 'how does this class keep up?' in that sense.

2. Psionic Devotion - Why pick one? This stuff is core to the idea of being Psionic, so why are you Psionic some of the time but not most of the time? We will see this theme recur, sadly.
Obviously, because you're a sub-class.

3. Thought Form - What the heck? That isn't a thing. That's never been a thing. They shove the ability to cast without components, a key Psionic concept, into a sub-ability of a high powered, flashy and totally unnecessary defensive ability. Terrible.
I guess they figured it had to go somewhere.

4. Mental Discipline - Continues the theme of "I'm psychic, but only some of the time!", by letting you select one of three spells to actually work like a Psionic power.
7. Psionic Spells - Not actually a power or descriptor or anything, just a list of suggestions.
Re-jiggering spells to be not-spells is something they tried before with the spell-less ranger that used spells to be not-spells because everything in D&D is all about spells, apparently.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
My thread dovetailed into a lot of bickering, but, yeah I share pretty much all your concerns and have a very generalized concern about the tendency to create subclasses ad nauseam as a replacement for concepts that really should be developed as full classes.

It doesn't matter if they come out infrequently - I'm fine with that. What matters is that they're done right.
 
I liked the curated spell list, but overall yeah, this was pretty half-done. I just don't get it, I guess. Like, if we're going to reduce this much material and history into a sub-class, why not Ranger? Why not Paladin? Monk? Bard? Barbarian?

5E currently has 13 classes. Many of them could work nested inside another as a sub-class. But instead those concepts are given room to breathe. I can accept the idea that Psionics shouldn't have a completely new system, but not even giving us a class is a little lame.

There's still a chance we get one. But that doesn't suddenly make the Psionist a good sub-class. Even the name is confusing. Its like if there was a sub-class (Ranger) and another class called Blood Hunt- oh.
 

Vael

Adventurer
Intent is a factor here. If the Psionic Wizard is intended to replace the Psion, then yes, it's a bit of a mess. But that's not the intent that I'm currently getting. I'm getting a Wizard that studies Psionics the same way a Wizard studies the school of Enchantment. Therefore this is a Wizard that uses Psionic spells, but is still primarily a Wizard. More a Cerebremancer than a full Psion.

As for the critique, I don't care to go after every point, but here's a few hyperbolic statements I take issue with:

1. Psionic Focus - Why is this not replacing your spellbook at least? Why the damage focus on a traditionally utility-focused concept?
I'm not sure what you mean by replacing. Does it function as a spellbook, requiring the usual expenditures of gold to scribe spells into it?

2. Psionic Devotion - Why pick one? This stuff is core to the idea of being Psionic, so why are you Psionic some of the time but not most of the time? We will see this theme recur, sadly.
Again, my reading is that this is a Wizard that studies Psionics, not a Psion. Different beast. Also, for balance reasons.

3. Thought Form - What the heck? That isn't a thing. That's never been a thing. They shove the ability to cast without components, a key Psionic concept, into a sub-ability of a high powered, flashy and totally unnecessary defensive ability. Terrible.
This is most definitely a thing. Seriously? Shedding one's body and becoming a creature of pure energy is what Psionic users do. Dozens of examples in fiction: becoming one with the Force like Yoda, all those energy beings in Star Trek and Babylon 5, Protoss from StarCraft. Mind over matter is such a core Psionic concept, I don't understand the hatred. This, to me, is pretty darn cool.

Also ... unnecessary? This replaces the battery of defensive spells I see wizards run and it doesn't require Concentration.
 

Sadras

Adventurer
That's assuming there won't eventually be an entire class as well, which I think is pretty likely if/when 5E Dark Sun happens.
I also think it is very likely that they will create an entire class - I was merely commenting that this UA once again shed light on their IMO weak/lacking archetype subclasses for the wizard.
 
This is most definitely a thing. Seriously? Shedding one's body and becoming a creature of pure energy is what Psionic users do. Dozens of examples in fiction: becoming one with the Force like Yoda, all those energy beings in Star Trek and Babylon 5, Protoss from StarCraft. Mind over matter is such a core Psionic concept, I don't understand the hatred. This, to me, is pretty darn cool.

Also ... unnecessary? This replaces the battery of defensive spells I see wizards run and it doesn't require Concentration.
In all those examples, it's an insanely huge deal, which is either only possible after death, or by some significant and shocking process. If this was a permanent change at level 18+ that comparison would definitely work.

This guy does it INT mod times/day and does it just so he can cast spells without components... If Luke kept becoming a Force Ghost any time a door was giving them trouble or something the movies would have a very different tone.

So no, it is not "a thing". The thing you are describing is momentous and very different.

Also, as accidentally admit, it's rather overpowered and replaces tons of other spells entirely, so is total nerf-bait.
 

Vael

Adventurer
In all those examples, it's an insanely huge deal, which is either only possible after death, or by some significant and shocking process. If this was a permanent change at level 18+ that comparison would definitely work.

This guy does it INT mod times/day and does it just so he can cast spells without components... If Luke kept becoming a Force Ghost any time a door was giving them trouble or something the movies would have a very different tone.

So no, it is not "a thing". The thing you are describing is momentous and very different.

Also, as accidentally admit, it's rather overpowered and replaces tons of other spells entirely, so is total nerf-bait.
Yeah, because those are fictional examples, and games are different from fiction. The point was that this was definitely in flavour of a Psionic user, ie, it's a thing. If you want game examples, the Uncarnate Paragon Path from 4e could turn insubstantial every time you spend an action point, at 11th level.

As for balance, I'm not convinced this is overpowered or not. It's not a major concern, this is UA, I'm not expecting perfect balance, it's test material. It's certainly not unnecessary.
 
It's ridiculously flashy and ludicrous, and doesn't match with 5E's tone. Even in 4E, Uncarnate seemed a bit silly but it was it's whole deal and was level 11. Not level, what, 6?
 

Vael

Adventurer
4e characters went to level 30. A level 11 4e PC is roughly equivalent to a level 7 5e PC, so giving it at 6th isn't a big shift. Spellcasters are throwing around fireballs, animating dead and conjuring houses out of thin air at this level, and this is too flashy and ludicrous? :rolleyes:
 

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