5E New Unearthed Arcana: Psionics!

There’s a new Unearthed Arcana article out, and it’s all about psionics! "Their minds bristling with power, three new subclasses arrive in today’s Unearthed Arcana: the Psychic Warrior for the fighter, the Soulknife for the rogue, and the tradition of Psionics for the wizard."

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In this 9-page PDF, there are also some new psionics-themed spells (including versions of classic psionic powers like id insinuation and ego whip) and two new feats.
 
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Comments

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I'm gonna have to give these comparison reads, especially to see what shifted from their Happy Fun Hour incarnations.

Biggest thing I see, and it is interesting, is that the Soul Knife moved from Monk to Rogue in this iteration.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
wizard arcane tradition? Major disappointment
I don't know. I've read it now, and it seems pretty sweet.

The only real "oddity" in the flavor of this version of a Psionicist and the historical versions is the presence of a spellbook and the lack of "always-on" subtle spellcasting (i.e. lack of verbal/somatic/material components).

I could dig this. Especially in concert with the Aberrant mind Sorcerer option presented earlier.

It's not how it used to be... but doesn't have to be like that? Dunno. I'm with @Ralif Redhammer that in 5e's world of things, I prefer subclasses over a completely new magic system I have to manage.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I don't know. I've read it now, and it seems pretty sweet.

The only real "oddity" in the flavor of this version of a Psionicist and the historical versions is the presence of a spellbook and the lack of "always-on" subtle spellcasting (i.e. lack of verbal/somatic/material components).

I could dig this. Especially in concert with the Aberrant mind Sorcerer option presented earlier.

It's not how it used to be... but doesn't have to be like that? Dunno. I'm with @Ralif Redhammer that in 5e's world of things, I prefer subclasses over a completely new magic system I have to manage.
It's not an either/or proposition, to boot: last time WotC discussed Psionic plans, both a new Class and a range of Subclasses were the idea. So, we might see a full Psion in the next UA...
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
I'm okay with Psionics-based subclasses, but I really want Psionics to be its own system, completely independent from the class system, as I believe it was in 1E (if I recall correctly -- it's been a long time). So ideally, you could be a Fighter who suddenly acquires psionic abilities at level 7. Or a Rogue at level 12, or a Wizard at level 3... It just seemed cool that you could acquire psionic powers at any level, as any class, rather than being locked into the "Psionicist class" at level 1.
 

Fenris447

Villager
I'm okay with Psionics-based subclasses, but I really want Psionics to be its own system, completely independent from the class system, as I believe it was in 1E (if I recall correctly -- it's been a long time). So ideally, you could be a Fighter who suddenly acquires psionic abilities at level 7. Or a Rogue at level 12, or a Wizard at level 3... It just seemed cool that you could acquire psionic powers at any level, as any class, rather than being locked into the "Psionicist class" at level 1.
How would that work, balance-wise? Would it replace taking a class's next level when you level up? Because then it's basically just a new class, anyway. I don't hate the idea in principle but it seems to be totally at odds with the 5e design.
 

Perun

Mushroom
It's not an either/or proposition, to boot: last time WotC discussed Psionic plans, both a new Class and a range of Subclasses were the idea. So, we might see a full Psion in the next UA...
I do hope so. I like the soulknife, psychuc warrior seems meh, flavour-wise... and I don't like the arcane tradition. I'm aware that it's personal, but that's the way it is. I also don't like that the wizards of this arcane tradition are called psionicists or mentalists. Makes me wonder what the actual psionic class might be called (and I hope it's not 'mystic'). And the abilities... oh, well... I just don't like it.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I'm okay with Psionics-based subclasses, but I really want Psionics to be its own system, completely independent from the class system, as I believe it was in 1E (if I recall correctly -- it's been a long time). So ideally, you could be a Fighter who suddenly acquires psionic abilities at level 7. Or a Rogue at level 12, or a Wizard at level 3... It just seemed cool that you could acquire psionic powers at any level, as any class, rather than being locked into the "Psionicist class" at level 1.
I mean a Human could do that stuff back in the day of Dual-classing, but a demi-human needed to start as a mutliclassed Psionicist/X class (based on allowed multiclassing options for your race).

I'd say that only 3.x had the ability to "suddenly become" fully Psionic at your next level up as all race/class/multiclass restrictions were effectively lifted. Don't know about 4e, never touched a book myself.

The flavor and lore of a Psionicist have always been about intense mental discipline and study. Very monastic, and very in line with the flavor of a wizard really, just with PSP instead of Vancian casting.

With 5e's Neo-Vancian structure much of the mechanical difference is eroded, especially if you use the Spell point variant.

There are two feats in this UA that are neat. Telekinetic and Telepathic that gives some of that flavor of Psionics without being fully psionic. I like them both.

I can also see a great storyline setup where there is a monastery made up of Monks/Psychic Warriors/Psionic Wizards at war with a group of Aberrant Mind Sorcerers and Great Old One Warlocks. Maybe a separate mercenary order of Assassins (Soul Knifes & Assassin subclasses) who sell their services to both sides in the conflict.

That seems really fun :)
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
I like the idea of new spells and feats to model Psionics. I'd rather use the existing systems we have rather than the creation of entirely new ones. After all psionics is very similar to magic in that both are just ways to supernaturally affect reality when you really get down to it.

That said some of the new spells are wildly imbalanced. Id Insinuation is a straight upgrade to Tasha's hideous laughter. Psionic Blast is the same level as Fireball with higher damage and a rider?!
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
How would that work, balance-wise? Would it replace taking a class's next level when you level up? Because then it's basically just a new class, anyway. I don't hate the idea in principle but it seems to be totally at odds with the 5e design.
The way it worked in 1E was definitely at odds with 5E's design philosophy. I just went back and checked the 1E PHB, and this is basically how it worked:
  • First, the DM decided whether to include Psionics or not (most games didn't).
  • Then, at character creation, the player rolled 1d100 to see if their character possessed psionic abilities. If they rolled 100, then they did. (The chances improved if they had high a Intelligence, Wisdom, and/or Charisma).
  • Next, the player rolled dice to randomly determine what psionic abilities their character possessed. The character wouldn't start out with all the abilities at once, but acquired them gradually as they leveled up.
So, the randomness is definitely at odds with 5E's design philosophy, but there are ways to fix that. One way is to have a list of Psionic abilities, and give everyone the chance to choose among the list of Psionic abilities instead of taking their class/sub-class ability for that level (sort of like how you can choose between Feats or an ASI at every level).

Or just integrate Psionics into the ASI/feat system. Every time you are eligible for an ASI, you can take a regular feat or a Psionic feat instead. That way, you can be a telekinetic Paladin, or a mind-blasting Rogue, or an Astral-Projecting Wizard. By level 8, your Human Fighter could be a Clairvoyant, Levitating, Telepath.

To me, that's a lot more interesting than a Psionics class.
 

lkj

Adventurer
It's not an either/or proposition, to boot: last time WotC discussed Psionic plans, both a new Class and a range of Subclasses were the idea. So, we might see a full Psion in the next UA...
And in fact Mearls had a wizard subclass called a 'mentalist'. This is a lot different than that subclass, but that's not surprising.

I think it's called a 'psionicist' to leave space for calling the full class a 'psion'.

AD
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
I really hope they still do a full psionic class since I'd prefer it to be its own thing, but since this UA has poached some of the classic psionicist powers and turned them into spells I'm not sure that is going to happen. I do like the feats though, I see them as a good way of unlocking psionic power in the different classes.
 

jgsugden

Adventurer
I'd rather see two new class, one a psychic warrior, the other a psion. Psionics is not a 'springing' concept that should be added on to another class afew a level or two... it is something that should be baked into the core of the character from the start. I'd have no problem with them being very reminiscent of the fighter and wizard... but they need to be separate classes.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I just went back and checked the 1E PHB, and this is basically how it worked
2e had the same. Wild Talents were the name of that game :)

Something similar could be achieved here with Magic Initiate, picking up Psionic Cantrips and 1st level spell and one or more of the Telepathic/Telekinetic Feats mentioned in this UA.

This is a lot different
It is... kind of a bummer as I really like that Subclass's take on things. Free Detect Thoughts, early access (at lesser power) to telekinesis and then boosting each of those spells functionality/versatility were nice. I might still want to let/use both in some circumstances.
 

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