D&D 5E MCDM 5e Psionicist “The Talent” open play test is live!

darjr

I crit!
I haven’t read it yet but am looking forward to it.

I am pleased to announce that The Talent and Psionics is now in open playtesting. This fifth edition supplement features MCDM’s next class, the talent—a hero that uses mind powers to battle monsters and overcome obstacles. This is the MCDM take on the psion!

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Interesting. So here, Psionics is almost like mental blood magic. Psychic Powers are used by taking on points of strain. Strain gives you various detriments, much like exhaustion, and you have a strain threshold and three types of strain (body/mind/soul). If you cross your strain threshold, you either die or fall to 0 unconscious. So, each power is basically you spending your health/life force to make some psychic effect happen.
 


First impressions:
  • Overly complicated for effects that still feel like spells
  • document definitely needs an edit for clarity
It does still feel like spells, but I feel like the power list is strong enough that you could make some subclasses (or other classes with their own power list) and run a pretty complete "all psionics, no magic" campaign. That is, I think, one of the goals of this version of the Talent — to provide an alternative magic system for people who want something a little fresher than spell slots or spell points.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Interesting. So here, Psionics is almost like mental blood magic. Psychic Powers are used by taking on points of strain. Strain gives you various detriments, much like exhaustion, and you have a strain threshold and three types of strain (body/mind/soul). If you cross your strain threshold, you either die or fall to 0 unconscious. So, each power is basically you spending your health/life force to make some psychic effect happen.
Problem: Players in 5e D&D generally don't like throwing themselves into a death spiral to do their cool $#!t, especially when other classes and subclasses don't have to for similar effects.
 

Problem: Players in 5e D&D generally don't like throwing themselves into a death spiral to do their cool $#!t, especially when other classes and subclasses don't have to for similar effects.
True, I ultimately think this design only works if you make an all-psionics homebrew world/campaign, or if the powers you gain from it are just really, really, really cool (which could lead to what many will see as imbalance).
 

I’ll be honest looking at it a bit more this whole document has a 1990s trad heartbreaker feel to it. Surely there is a more elegant way to deal with “strain” than creating three separate “tracks” and writing it up like this?:

Track Maximum Strain. At 1st level, you have a maximum of 1 strain in two tracks and a maximum of 2 strain in one track of your choice. Each time you gain a level in this class, you can increase the maximum strain of one of the tracks by 1. You can’t increase a track’s maximum strain if doing so would make it 2 higher than either other track. For instance, if your 4th-level talent has a maximum of 3 strain in their body track and a maximum of 2 strain in their mind and soul tracks, you couldn’t increase the maximum strain of your body track at level 5. You would need to increase the maximum strain of either mind or soul to 3 at 5th level, then the other at 6th level before you could increase your body track at 7th level.

and the powers you get from dealing with this level of complexity are mundane magic-ish stuff like:

You touch one creature in range, and they become wreathed in psionic fire that isn’t harmful to you or the target. Whenever another creature within 5 feet of the target touches or hits them with a melee attack, that creature takes 1d4 fire damage

“Psionic fire”

Meanwhile, what would we call writing that is neither natural language nor game language, but in some kind of purgatory?

Effects and spells that affect magic like antimagic field, counterspell, and dispel magic have no effect on powers. Likewise, effects that affect powers don’t affect spells or other magical effects

When you manifest a power with a manifestation time longer than a single action or reaction, you must spend your action each turn manifesting the power

Whenever you gain strain, you choose which type of strain it is. For instance, if you gain 3 strain, you can gain all three as body, mind, or soul strain, you can gain 2 in one type of strain and 1 in another, or you can gain 1 each of body, mind, and soul strain

Ok, sorry, I’ll stop with the negativity! 😉 I loved psionics in 2e but I was probably more into the idea than the system, in retrospect.
 


How does it compare to the Level Up psion playtest from a few weeks back?
Voidrunner's was more meant for sci-fi psionics, but I would say was easier to use overall. This new version isn't bad, and I actually really like its Psionics Power list, but as said above, the powers aren't worth all the bookkeeping and curses you take on for using them.
 


I think positive feedback goes a long way. It is a play-test after all.
Like I said earlier, I really think that if you ran a game with just this magic system, and created either subclasses or replacement classes for the spellcasters, you'd have a very fun and interesting game. The too little bang for its buck only matters when you have other magic systems (spell + spell slots) to compare it too.

But positive feedback, while helpful, isn't as helpful as constructive criticism, so I encourage everyone to offer as much constructive criticism as they can to any playtest they give feedback on. We won't help them make a better Psychic by holding all our criticisms for late stage playtesting!
 

Helena Real

Dame of Solamnia
After a first read, I find a fascinating concept and very well executed. The fantasy of mental powers totally delivers and the "danger" of self-harm with the Strain mechanic is a welcomed change to the more "safe" design of 5E. Definitely not for everybody but, for those interested in it, looks right about perfect.

I can't wait to playtest myself! 😁
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I think positive feedback goes a long way. It is a play-test after all.
Feedback should be honest, positive or negative, otherwise it is useless as data. Negative feedback is not a bad thing when you out out a playtest document: that’s the whole point of it. A playtest is a data-gathering exercise. They would prefer to know if stuff doesn’t work.
 

darjr

I crit!
Like I said earlier, I really think that if you ran a game with just this magic system, and created either subclasses or replacement classes for the spellcasters, you'd have a very fun and interesting game. The too little bang for its buck only matters when you have other magic systems (spell + spell slots) to compare it too.

But positive feedback, while helpful, isn't as helpful as constructive criticism, so I encourage everyone to offer as much constructive criticism as they can to any playtest they give feedback on. We won't help them make a better Psychic by holding all our criticisms for late stage playtesting!
Yes, constructive criticism. I change me mind to that.

Also they have a discord for direct feedback if any y’all are interested.

 

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
I think positive feedback goes a long way. It is a play-test after all.
To see how true this is, one easily can look at the very first 5e UA versions of the "Mystic" class and chart its development through multiple iterations until the abandoned, hopelessly OP version from 2017. Mystics did not start out as OP at all; quite the contrary.

Criticisms of writing style, grammar, clarity, etc. certainly will matter, but probably not very much in v1.0. It's in later drafts that that sort of stuff usually gets cleaned up.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Honestly... I sincerely dislike this class.

Firstly, of course, it's Psionic Powers are individually discrete spells that you learn and cast same as any other character.

Second, building a class from the ground up to nerf itself back into the ground is not a good design for 5e. When a Wizard runs out of spell slots he can still make decent skill checks and not die from using too much magic. The same cannot be said of this class.

Take a look at 13th level, for example. That's the point where you get 5th Order Powers. That's cool, right? But your dice is only 1d6. So if you roll a 6 you avoid gaining strain. If you roll a 5 you gain 1 strain. If you roll a 4 or lower you gain 5 Strain.

At that level you've got 14 Strain as your maximum. Sure, you could cast that spell, sorry "Manifest that Power" as many times as you roll well and do really good compared to a traditional spellcaster... or you could cast it twice and have your character massively debuffed for the rest of your adventuring day.

Or a third time and die. All based on rolling 1d6 and hoping for a 6.

And what kind of power do you get out of that? Bones of Glass. Give a target Vulnerability (Double Damage) to B/S/P is an example. For 1 round (End of your next turn). And they get a save against it. On a save they take 3d10 Psychic damage.

And you still get 5 points of strain 66% of the time.

Meanwhile a 9th level Wizard can cast Hold Monster and cause every hit on that target to crit (If they fail their saving throw) for up to 1 minute (If they keep failing their saving throw) without gaining disadvantage on all Intelligence Checks until they spend their hit dice to remove the penalty or take a long rest.

In a system that is flipped on it's head, where rather than classes and characters using limited resources they instead take progressive detriments over the course of the day, this class could be 'neat'. But in 5e it stands out as a sore thumb of a class that defeats itself through its core mechanic.

Do not want.
 

Honestly... I sincerely dislike this class.

Firstly, of course, it's Psionic Powers are individually discrete spells that you learn and cast same as any other character.

Second, building a class from the ground up to nerf itself back into the ground is not a good design for 5e. When a Wizard runs out of spell slots he can still make decent skill checks and not die from using too much magic. The same cannot be said of this class.

Take a look at 13th level, for example. That's the point where you get 5th Order Powers. That's cool, right? But your dice is only 1d6. So if you roll a 6 you avoid gaining strain. If you roll a 5 you gain 1 strain. If you roll a 4 or lower you gain 5 Strain.

At that level you've got 14 Strain as your maximum. Sure, you could cast that spell, sorry "Manifest that Power" as many times as you roll well and do really good compared to a traditional spellcaster... or you could cast it twice and have your character massively debuffed for the rest of your adventuring day.

Or a third time and die. All based on rolling 1d6 and hoping for a 6.

And what kind of power do you get out of that? Bones of Glass. Give a target Vulnerability (Double Damage) to B/S/P is an example. For 1 round (End of your next turn). And they get a save against it. On a save they take 3d10 Psychic damage.

And you still get 5 points of strain 66% of the time.

Meanwhile a 9th level Wizard can cast Hold Monster and cause every hit on that target to crit (If they fail their saving throw) for up to 1 minute (If they keep failing their saving throw) without gaining disadvantage on all Intelligence Checks until they spend their hit dice to remove the penalty or take a long rest.

In a system that is flipped on it's head, where rather than classes and characters using limited resources they instead take progressive detriments over the course of the day, this class could be 'neat'. But in 5e it stands out as a sore thumb of a class that defeats itself through its core mechanic.

Do not want.
I both agree and disagree with this.

I disagree that a class that burns itself on the pyre to do cool stuff can't work with vanilla 5E. I think it can, though it'd only appeal to a niche sort of players, which is fine since every class only applies to a certain niche of players.

However, I think the execution here and the payoff just isn't good enough for what you get.
 

grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
I applaud the concept but the execution is flawed. The mechanics are super flavorful but punish the player for using his class. The strain concept is strong but the tracks seem arbitrary and crippling to a traditional adventuring party. Strain almost necessitates a 5-minute workday followed by a long rest. The metamagic or psionic exertion is way too punishing to use. Add a frightened kicker for 3 strain? Too much.
I like the concept of straining the caster. A separate damage track, like inverse spell points, might be workable. Use strain 'damage' as a way to push beyond your mortal abilities with a simpler disadvantage system or perhaps the fatigue mechanic.
The spells or powers seem fine, if a bit too much like magic reskins. It is a playtest class but it needs help to get it polished.
 

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