5E Let's Build A Better Psion

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
The hot topic this week in this forum is Psionics. The latest Unearthed Arcana included a bunch of psionics-flavored subclasses, and it got everyone in an uproar about how it should have been a whole new class instead (or ignored entirely). The thing is, Unearthed Arcana already did release a psion as a full class...and later updated it. The surveys that came later weren't favorable; I predict the same will happen for this new subclass-only version.

So let's help them out. Let's build a psion of our very own! This forum is filled with tons of ideas about how the psion should work and how it might be improved, so I'd like to cast a wide net out there and capture those ideas. If we put our minds together, I bet we can come up with something really fun to play.

Disclaimer: this is going to be a creative exercise, not a debate platform. If you are still upset from a disagreement in another thread, and you only want to fight/argue/win a cookie, this isn't the place to do it. The rest of us are trying to build something here. Also, don't dump on anyone else's ideas unless you have better ones to offer.

Let's start with some basic design assumptions.
  • This Psion will be a full, 20-level class.
  • It will have 2 subclasses, maybe more.
  • There could also be at least 2 subclasses that are suitable for other classes to use (wizard maybe?)
  • It will use the 5th Edition rules. The Core Rules will be preferred, optional rules or variants in the DMG will be used if necessary.
  • Brand-new rules and mechanics will be developed and implemented only as a last resort, when all other options fail.
  • New skills, proficiencies, spells, and equipment may be necessary, but let's not draw focus.
Ready? Let's go!
 
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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
CURRENT ITERATIONS
Stay tuned, I'm updating this as quickly as I can.

The version that seems to make the most sense to the team uses the Warlock (and specifically the Hexblade) as a template:
  • Full "spellcasting" progression to 9th level
  • Smaller selection of "spells"
  • Spells are higher powered (all use the same higher-level "spell slot"?)
  • Faster recovery time (short rest?)
  • Hexblade-esque armor proficiencies
  • Summonable weapons and armor?
The Spell Point variant in the DMG has been pitched as a possibility.
Monk ki points have been floated as a reliable replacement for "power points."
Need replacements for Invocations and Mystic Arcanum.

Stay tuned, I'm updating this as quickly as I can.

PREVIOUS (SUPERSEDED) VERSIONS
I'll get us started.

I propose our Psion use the Wizard as a base. We replace the spell slots with the Spell Points option from the DMG, and then we replace the Arcane Traditions with more psionic-themed ones: Ardent, Divine Mind, Erudite, Lurk, and Psi-Warrior.

CHARACTER CLASS: PSION

As a Psion, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points
Hit Dice:
1d6 per Psion level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 6 + Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d6 (or 4) + your Constitution modifier per Psion level after 1st.

Starting Proficiencies
You are proficient with the following items, in addition to any Proficiencies provided by your race or Background.

Armor: None
Weapons: daggers, darts, slings, quarterstaffs, light crossbows
Tools: none
Saving Throws: Intelligence, Wisdom
Skills: Choose two from Arcana, History, Insight, Investigation, Medicine, and Religion


Starting Equipment
Later.

Table: The Psion
Class LevelProficiency BonusFeaturesCantrips KnownPowers KnownPower PointsMax Power Level
1st+2Psionic Powers, Psionic Recovery3241st
2nd+2Psionic Tradition33161st
3rd+2-44142nd
4th+2Ability Score Improvement45172nd
5th+3-46273rd
6th+3Psionic Tradition Feature47323rd
7th+3-48384th
8th+3Ability Score Improvement49444th
9th+4-410575th
10th+4Psionic Tradition Feature511645th
11th+4-512736th
12th+4Ability Score Improvement512736th
13th+5-513837th
14th+5Psionic Tradition Feature513837th
15th+5-514948th
16th+5Ability Score Improvement514948th
17th+6-5151079th
18th+6Power Mastery5151149th
19th+6Ability Score Improvement5151239th
20th+6Signature Power5151339th
Psionics





You have Psionic Power, the ability to use the force of your mind and will to produce wondrous effects.

Cantrips
At 1st level, you know three Cantrips of your choice from the Psion powers list. You learn additional Psion cantrips of your choice at higher levels, as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Psion table.

Power Points
The Psion table shows how many Power Points you have to use your Psionic powers of 1st level and higher. To use one of these Psionic Powers, you must expend a number of points equal to the Power's level or higher. You regain all expended Power Points when you finish a Long rest.

Powers Known of 1st Level and Higher
You know two 1st-level Psionic Powers of your choice from the Psion power list.

You learn an additional Psion power of your choice at each level except 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 19th, and 20th. Each of these Powers must be of a level equal to or lower than your Maximum Power Level shown in the table.

Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the Psionic Powers you know and replace it with another Power from the list, which also must be of a level equal to or lower than your Maximum Power Level.

Psionic Power Ability
Intelligence is your key ability for using Psionic Powers, since this ability relies on your strength of mind. You use your Intelligence whenever a psionic power refers to your Spellcasting Ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a Psionic Power that you use, and when making an attack roll with one.

Psionic Power save DC = 8 + your Proficiency Bonus + your Intelligence modifier​
Psionic Power Attack Modifier = your Proficiency Bonus + your Intelligence modifier​

Psionic Focus
You can use a psionic focus as a Spellcasting focus for your Psionic powers.
Kineticist (Psychokinesis specialist)

You move things and manipulate energy with your thought.

As Primary Requisite can freely choose Int, Wis or Con

Psionic Tradition:

1) – gains the Telekinetic Hand Cantrip (as Mage Hand but invisible)

- Telekinetic Push: as a bonus action, you can force a Large or smaller creature within 30’ to pass a Strenght save (DC = your Power DC) or be pushed back 15’. Can use a number of times equal to your Primary Requisite bonus before a long rest.

- Telekinetic Deflect: as a reaction, you can impose disadvantage on an attack (against you or not) within 60’. Can use a number of times equal to your Primary Requisite bonus before a long rest.

6) – Inertial Barrier: as a reaction, creates a semipermeable, mobile bubble of force around you in 10’. The bubble halves the Dmg from missiles and energy attacks (for example Breath Weapons) that cross the barrier, and falling Dmg is also halved for all creatures inside. You must use Concentration (up to 1 min) to maintain the bubble for more then 1 round. After a use, it recharges with a Long Rest.

10) – Control Body: as an action, you can try to control the body of a Large or smaller creature within 30’, as a puppeteer. The creature can resist with a Str save and can repeat it at the end of each round. When the creature is controlled, you can make it move and attack physically, but you must maintain Concentration (up to 1 minute) and must use 1 bonus action each round to control the creature.

- Gains Telekinesis as a bonus known power. You can use it for free once for long rest.

14) Megakinesis: you can use Telekinesis on one Gargantuan creature, or two Huge, four Large, eight Medium, sixteen Small; or Objects with a total weight of 100,000 pounds or less. When you use this power, you recover it with a long rest.
I'd personally suggest using the Warlock as the template for the mechanics of the Psion, but I'd also suggest using sub-classes for specialty psionics like the soul knife and psionic warrior.

Class Features:

Hit Points:
Hit Dice: 1d8 per psion level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per psion level after 1st

Proficiencies:
Armor: Light armor
Weapons: Simple weapons
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Intelligence, Wisdom
Skills: Choose two skills from Arcana, History, Insight, or Perception

Devotion:
At 1st level, you have focused your mind one of the psionic devotions: Clarsentience (seeing at a distance), Psycokinentics (affecting things at a distance), Psychometabolics (affecting a body directly), Psychoportive (moving things across a distance), and Telepathy. Your choice grants you features at 1st level and again at 6th, 10th, and 14th level.

Pionics:
Your internal focus and knowledge has given you facility with spells. See chapter 10 for the general rules of spellcasting and below for the Pison Spell List.

Cantrips:
You know two cantrips of your choice from the psion spell List. You learn additional psion cantrips of your choice at higher levels, as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Psion table.

Spell Slots:
The Psion table shows how many spell slots you have. The table also shows what the level of those slots is; all of your spell slots are the same level. To cast one of your psion spells of 1st level or higher, you must expend a spell slot. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a short or long rest. For example, when you are 5th level, you have two 3rd-level spell slots. To cast a 1st-level spell, you must spend one of those slots, and you cast it as a 3rd-level spell.

Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher:
At 1st level, you know two 1st-level spells of your choice from the psion spell list. The Spells Known column of the Psion table shows when you learn more psion spells of your choice of 1st level and higher. A spell you choose must be of a level no higher than what’s shown in the table's Slot Level column for your level. When you reach 6th level, for example, you learn a new psion spell, which can be 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level.

Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the psion spells you know and replace it with another spell from the psion spell list, which also must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

Spellcasting Ability:
Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for your psion spells, so you use your Intelligence whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a psion spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spellcasting Focus:
You can use a psionic focus as a spellcasting focus for your psion spells. These include crystals, orbs, and totems. When you cast a spell, you may ignore any Verbal, Somatic, and Material components so long as you possess a Psionic Focus, except for Material components with a listed cost.

Psionic Sciences:
In your study of the mind, you've unlocked secrets that enhance your mental powers.

At 2nd level, you gain two sciences of your choice. Your science options are detailed at the end of the class description. When you gain certain psion levels, you gain additional sciences of your choice, as shown in the Invocations Known column of the Psion table.

Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the sciences you know and replace it with another sciences that you could learn at that level.

Secondary Discipline:
At 3rd level, you've unlocked a lesser aspect of another Discipline. You gain one of the following features of your choice, but cannot choose the same Discipline as you took at level 1.

<insert half of discipline benefit from level 1>

Ability Score Improvement:
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability s cores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Metapsionics:
At 11th level, you've reached the point of working beyond the mere mortal mind, and can channel power from deep within. Choose one 6th-level spell from the psion spell list as this metapsionic. You can cast your metapsionic spell once without expending a spell slot. You must finish a long rest before you can do so again.

At higher levels, you gain more psion spells of your choice that can be cast in this way: one 7th-level spell at 13th level, one 8th-level spell at 15th level, and one 9th-level spell at 17th level. You regain all uses of your Mystic Arcanum when you finish a long rest.

Mind Master:
At 20th level, you can draw on your inner reserve of mental power. You can spend 1 minute in meditation to regain all your expended spell slots from your Psionics feature. Once you regain spell slots with this feature, you must finish a long rest before you can do so again.
Here is an Advancement Table without any empty levels. Each level offers about a feat worth of features.

(A feat is worth about two ability score improvements, or two half feats. A half feat is worth about, one slot level 2 spell per short rest, two cantrips, two martial weapon proficiencies, two armor proficiencies, one skill expertise, four skill proficiencies, or four tool proficienices.)

Notice there a five "zero levels" preceding a level 1 character, to build up race features and background proficiencies, plus basic class features.

The level 8 background feature relates to heading a local institution, such as founding a school to attract students, building a fortress to attract soldiers, or becoming the mayor of a small town whose population is less than 100,000. The level 16 background relates to becoming a globally powerful leader. The level 24 background relates to the immortal becoming identical with some cosmic phenomenon, such as gaining a domain within ones ‘portfolio’.

Feats are a free choice of feat. The feat can be used to improve two ability scores, or one ability score with a half-feat, or two half-feats without an ability score improvement.

Race are race feats, or with DM permission any comparable feat or feature that advances the themes of the race or subrace.

Notice, the class archetype is the subclass feature at level 1. At level 1, the player chooses what kind of Psion, such as Telepath or Telekinete, and can express this theme in a notable way.




LProfRACEFEATBACKGROUNDCLASSTIER
0a+0Race
0b+1Class ArchetypeBASIC
0c+1Feat
0d+1Class
0e+1Background
1+2Class Archetype
2+2Feat
3+2Class
4+2Race
5+3Class ArchetypeEXPERT
6+3Feat
7+3Class
8+3Background
9+4Class Archetype
10+4Feat
11+4Class
12+4Race
13+5Class ArchetypeMASTER
14+5Feat
15+5Class
16+5Background
17+6Class Archetype
18+6Feat
19+6Class
20+6Race
21+7Class ArchetypeIMMORTAL
22+7Feat
23+7Class
24+7Background
 
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Sabathius42

Explorer
Because I am not happy with the current iteration of psionics...and because I mentioned that I don't see a lot of free homebrew collaborative design....i'll throw in my ideas...

MY DESIGN GOAL: Create something that is fairly easy to play (ala the 5e core classes) but that feels VERY different from a wizard, sorcerer, or warlock.

The basic mechanics of psionic powers are as follows...
  • The character has some number of psi-points available (PP to keep things similar to previous editions).
  • The character chooses a certain number of psi-abilities to spend these points on. Some abilities are provided by subclass, others are chosen from a list to customize the character.
  • All psi-abilities are available at all times, the character does not choose a list at the beginning of the day.
  • PP will regenerate at least once over the course of a day (basically on a long rest).
  • psi-abilities will be designed such that increasing the points spent on them generate more powerful versions of that power.
  • Max points spent on a power is determined by character level, which will naturally limit access to certain higher point cost powers and also limit access to extremely powerful


Example of an escalating power (general feel, not balanced or anything)....
Telekinetic Bolt
1 PP: Damage in line with a 1st level attack spell
2 PP: 10' radius, scaled up damage
3 PP: 20' radius, scaled up damage
4 PP: 20' radius, scaled up damage, stun chance (like monk power)

The "Different Feel" aspect of the psion will be that the escalating abilities of the power, by doing more that just scaling up damage, will make each "discipline" seem like a list of powers rather than just one power that changes slightly.

OPTIONAL FEEL IDEA: Have ongoing buffs and nerfs to the psion based upon how many points they have "left in the tank". This will reinforce the idea that they will want to ration their power out over the course of the day rather just blow it all early in an adventure then walk around hampered.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Because I am not happy with the current iteration of psionics...and because I mentioned that I don't see a lot of free homebrew collaborative design....i'll throw in my ideas...

MY DESIGN GOAL: Create something that is fairly easy to play (ala the 5e core classes) but that feels VERY different from a wizard, sorcerer, or warlock.
Excellent! Welcome aboard!

I have a question though. One of the things that people have mentioned several times in the forums is how the psion needs to feel very different from other spellcasters. I don't fully understand that, but it's not a deal-breaker for me. A different feel can be imparted by pure description and flavor, "reskinning" for lack of a better term. It can also be done with unique game mechanics, but those are harder to balance.

Do you think the "spell points" variant in the DMG would fit the bill?

I like your spell ideas for scaling up the area of an effect based on the number of power points spent. Would it be worth incorporating some of the sorcerer's Metamagic abilities to accomplish that?
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
and then we replace the Arcane Traditions with more psionic-themed ones: Ardent, Divine Mind, Erudite, Lurk, and Psi-Warrior.
Counterproposal: Most of these are better off as psionic-themed subclasses of other classes. Let's use the classic 3e psion "disciplines" as subclasses: Seer, Shaper, Kineticist, Egoist, Telepath, Nomad. Don't have to use all of them, but it's a good baseline and allows room for expansion.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I love the idea of having a passive buff (or something) that gets weaker as the psion's power tank gets low. Does anyone have some ideas on how to implement that?
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
We replace the spell slots with the Spell Points option from the DMG
I'm going to stop you right here for the make or break moment of this entire endeavor:

The core class should use slots as normal, but have an extensive sidebar (filled with Tables and Multiclass Rules) that details the spell points optional rules.

That way, the Psion has a higher chance of being accepted by the population at large, by making integration into existing games and adoption by new players much easier, while purposely drawing attention to an idea that will placate the existing Fanbase. Yes, power points would be an "Optional Rule" at that point, but the underlying math is almost exactly the same, and I suspect they will end up being as Optional as Feats are (which are often treated as a default opt-in for online discussions).
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I'm going to stop you right here for the make or break moment of this entire endeavor:

The core class should use slots as normal, but have an extensive sidebar (filled with Tables and Multiclass Rules) that details the spell points optional rules.

That way, the Psion has a higher chance of being accepted by the population at large, by making integration into existing games and adoption by new players much easier, while purposely drawing attention to an idea that will placate the existing Fanbase. Yes, power points would be an "Optional Rule" at that point, but the underlying math is almost exactly the same, and I suspect they will end up being as Optional as Feats are (which are often treated as a default opt-in for online discussions).
Excellent point. Spell slots are already a default game assumption, and already have solid, tried-and-true mechanics. It would certainly make the task easier.

I wonder if people who plan to use psionics in their game will be specifically looking for a "power points" system specifically, though. If memory serves, psionics has always used points instead of spell slots, and that might be the default expectation for fans. If that's the case, it might be better to use Power Points by default, and include an optional rule for Spell Slots in the sidebar.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Counterproposal: Most of these are better off as psionic-themed subclasses of other classes. Let's use the classic 3e psion "disciplines" as subclasses: Seer, Shaper, Kineticist, Egoist, Telepath, Nomad. Don't have to use all of them, but it's a good baseline and allows room for expansion.
I like it! (I admit, I just copied these subclasses out of the old Complete Psion.)

Do you mind spearheading these?
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
As controversial as it will be, I'm gonna say that psionics should key-off Wisdom instead of Intelligence.
 

Sabathius42

Explorer
I'm looking at psions as an ofshoot of the monk, not the wizard.

The monk has a list of powers that they use the points to use. My idea is to expand on this, Maki g this cl

If you are just going to reskin an existing class then why bother doing all this work in the first place? There is already a semiofficial wizard style psion, which people dont care for, which is the reason for this thread.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
As controversial as it will be, I'm gonna say that psionics should key-off Wisdom instead of Intelligence.
Interesting idea. But don't stop there...tell us why Wisdom would be better than Intelligence.

For example, I like Intelligence because it's an under-utilized ability score in 5th Edition, and I like to find new and interesting places to use it. I also like how it models a person's "strength of mind," rather than their "strength of will" (Wisdom) or "strength of personality" (Charisma). But that's just my opinion; I'm happy to consider different points of view.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I'm looking at psions as an ofshoot of the monk, not the wizard.

The monk has a list of powers that they use the points to use. My idea is to expand on this...

If you are just going to reskin an existing class then why bother doing all this work in the first place? There is already a semiofficial wizard style psion, which people dont care for, which is the reason for this thread.
I never considered the monk. I looked at Sorcerer (for the "sorcery points"), and Wizard because Intelligence and powerful brain and et cetera, but I totally glossed over ki points. WHY DID I NOT THINK OF MONK?! Do you mind posting your write-up in this thread as you work on it?

Reskinning an existing class is a quick way to get ideas down on paper, which is the first step in design (according to me). After that, we start making changes and substitutions over multiple iterations, until we have something that doesn't resemble anything else. Dreaming up a brand-new class, from a blank slate, and having it start out balanced and functional sounds like an incredible longshot to me.
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
I agree that Intelligence is under-utilized as a class ability score, though has improved somewhat with the release of the Artificer. Psionics deals with the mind, but not necessarily the learned, education, or deductive reasoning that is often associated with Intelligence. Wisdom, IMHO, represents the intuition, wisdom, mysticism, and extrasensory perception that seems to be part of psionics. I'm not gonna lose sleep if it's Intelligence, since there are several editions where Intelligence is the key stat for Psions.
 

Enrico Poli1

Explorer
Kineticist (Psychokinesis specialist)

You move things and manipulate energy with your thought.

As Primary Requisite can freely choose Int, Wis or Con

Psionic Tradition:

1) – gains the Telekinetic Hand Cantrip (as Mage Hand but invisible)

- Telekinetic Push: as a bonus action, you can force a Large or smaller creature within 30’ to pass a Strenght save (DC = your Power DC) or be pushed back 15’. Can use a number of times equal to your Primary Requisite bonus before a long rest.

- Telekinetic Deflect: as a reaction, you can impose disadvantage on an attack (against you or not) within 60’. Can use a number of times equal to your Primary Requisite bonus before a long rest.

6) – Inertial Barrier: as a reaction, creates a semipermeable, mobile bubble of force around you in 10’. The bubble halves the Dmg from missiles and energy attacks (for example Breath Weapons) that cross the barrier, and falling Dmg is also halved for all creatures inside. You must use Concentration (up to 1 min) to maintain the bubble for more then 1 round. After a use, it recharges with a Long Rest.

10) – Control Body: as an action, you can try to control the body of a Large or smaller creature within 30’, as a puppeteer. The creature can resist with a Str save and can repeat it at the end of each round. When the creature is controlled, you can make it move and attack physically, but you must maintain Concentration (up to 1 minute) and must use 1 bonus action each round to control the creature.

- Gains Telekinesis as a bonus known power. You can use it for free once for long rest.

14) Megakinesis: you can use Telekinesis on one Gargantuan creature, or two Huge, four Large, eight Medium, sixteen Small; or Objects with a total weight of 100,000 pounds or less. When you use this power, you recover it with a long rest.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Sure thing. My first thought is that in earlier editions, each of the disciplines had some powers that were specific to that discipline. (Powers like Schism, Astral Construct, Metamorphosis). Giving some subclass powers that mimic those powers would be interesting.

I'd also think a bonus spell list like clerics would be appropriate, or would make it more sense to give the psions less powers but make those powers more flexible in utility?
 

Raunalyn

Adventurer
I agree that the core class should be a singular class with sub-classes. However, I also propose that there be a psionic subclass for some/most of the other classes (having a hard time justifying a psionic Druid, cleric, or wizard, but I'm sure there will be ideas). The Battlemind/Psychic Warrior should be a subclass of the fighter, not a subclass of Psion. Psionic Bard = Ardent, etc.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
I never considered the monk. I looked at Sorcerer (for the "sorcery points"), and Wizard because Intelligence and powerful brain and et cetera, but I totally glossed over ki points. WHY DID I NOT THINK OF MONK?! Do you mind posting your write-up in this thread as you work on it?

Reskinning an existing class is a quick way to get ideas down on paper, which is the first step in design (according to me). After that, we start making changes and substitutions over multiple iterations, until we have something that doesn't resemble anything else. Dreaming up a brand-new class, from a blank slate, and having it start out balanced and functional sounds like an incredible longshot to me.
Kibblestasty (one of my favorite homebrewers) has a Psion class that uses Monk ki points as its base; it's a very solid approach.

 

Celebrim

Legend
I wonder if people who plan to use psionics in their game will be specifically looking for a "power points" system specifically, though.
In my past experience discussing what a psion in, this is the heart and sole of it. People who like psionics like power points, end of discussion. They can't pin down why a psionic isn't a type of a sorcerer or a type of wizard from the flavor perspective, but they can point to the mechanical distinction between the two.
 

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