Unearthed Arcana 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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Vael

Legend
To me, the logical answer is to go with conventional spell slots. And then group spells and an ability or two into a Discipline. Like if a Cleric only prepared Domains.

So, consider: A full caster with Wizard Hit Dice. And then, instead of knowing or preparing spells, they can pick a Discipline, which might grant spells.

For example, Pyrokinesis is a Discipline that grants Produce Flame as a bonus cantrip, and then you get Burning Hands, Scorching Ray, Fireball and Immolation as soon as you reach the Psion level able to cast said spells.

The challenge is figuring out 6th level spells and higher, because I don't know fitting them into Disciplines works. That was notable in the Mystic.
 

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Azzy

KMF DM
To me, the logical answer is to go with conventional spell slots. And then group spells and an ability or two into a Discipline. Like if a Cleric only prepared Domains.

So, consider: A full caster with Wizard Hit Dice. And then, instead of knowing or preparing spells, they can pick a Discipline, which might grant spells.

For example, Pyrokinesis is a Discipline that grants Produce Flame as a bonus cantrip, and then you get Burning Hands, Scorching Ray, Fireball and Immolation as soon as you reach the Psion level able to cast said spells.

The challenge is figuring out 6th level spells and higher, because I don't know fitting them into Disciplines works. That was notable in the Mystic.

That's pretty much how 3.5 handled it. The Psion specialized in a Discipline (Clairsentience, Metacreativity, Psychokinesis, Psychometabolism, Psychoportation, or Telepathy) which, in 5e, would be a subclass. Each Psion drew powers (psionic spells) from a base powers list and each Discipline had a list of powers unique to it (like a Cleric's Domain spells in 5e).

The Discipline subclasses would need a few extra feature thematic to that subclass, as is the case with Wizards, Sorcerers, etc.

Use Spell Slots and Spells Known, like a Sorcerer (but keyed off of Int) (point to the option of using Spell Points in the DMG for those that want it and default to Magical Transparency. Have psionic spells require no components, and Bob's your uncle. No new rules to learn.

Just give me the option of having psicrystals and astral contructsand such.
 

Vael

Legend
That's pretty much how 3.5 handled it.

Not quite. Psions still chose individual powers/spells. I'm using the Mystic, who chooses Disciplines, not individual powers (aside from cantrips or talents in this case), but reverse engineering the Mystic's individual powers into spells and then leaving them grouped. The Ardent and their mantles from 3.5 might be a closer match to what I'm proposing, but even the Ardent picks individual powers from their known mantles.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
The Psychic Warrior, as presented in this UA, is woefully lacking in options. I don't mind them not having spells, but there needs to be more variety in their powers and abilities. A great place to draw from would be the Psionic Feats (just make them class features instead) like Body Fuel, Deep Impact, Fell Shot, Mental Leap, Psionic Charge, Psionic Shot, Psionic Weapon, Return Shot, Sidestep Charge, Speed of Thought, Unavoidable Strike, Up the Walls, and Wounding Attack.
 

vpuigdoller

Adventurer
The thing with is, it isn't just easier to hit on consecutive tries.

It is easier for all saves to hit, making it one of the few debuffs in the game to affect saves of enemies. That is huge in some ways, since just giving someone a debuff on a save versus a worse effect is a big deal, let alone the damage coming with it.
Yah that escaped my mind. I agree.
 




Chaosmancer

Legend
The Psychic Warrior, as presented in this UA, is woefully lacking in options. I don't mind them not having spells, but there needs to be more variety in their powers and abilities. A great place to draw from would be the Psionic Feats (just make them class features instead) like Body Fuel, Deep Impact, Fell Shot, Mental Leap, Psionic Charge, Psionic Shot, Psionic Weapon, Return Shot, Sidestep Charge, Speed of Thought, Unavoidable Strike, Up the Walls, and Wounding Attack.

As someone who doesn't have the first clue where to look for Psionic feats from older editions, a quick summary of what some of those are supposed to do?
 

Aldarc

Legend
3. D&D has no motivation to create a system that equals or overshadows magic and it's one of the reasons that 3.5 WotC psionics pained me. It had flavor and rationale, but it couldn't replace magic, especially healing.
Dreamscarred Press created the Vitalist for Pathfinder, which basically was a psychic healer who linked the life-forces of their teammates.
 


Lord-Archaon

Explorer
As someone who doesn't have the first clue where to look for Psionic feats from older editions, a quick summary of what some of those are supposed to do?
The general feeling should be these characters move in unnatural ways. A very cool feature/power for example was Skate: unnaturally sliding without friction on surfaces. Mechanics-wise, psionic warrior types should be able to do stuff such as very short range teleports to represent extreme sprints (psionic charge), like Zealots in Starcraft 2, or Spider Climb for part of the movement, short flights etc. Very high mobility, like the Monk in a way, but more supernatural.

Attacks-wise, there were many peculiar things. Psychic blades of course, but also far weirder stuff like melding of physical weapons with the body, making their arm become a blade or other weapon (I guess this was one of the criticized things, cause it looked weird and out-of-place. I guess it could make sense only if the whole class/subclass would be themed around body transformation/modification).
Also a lot of Smite-like abilities, where the weapon is charged with psychic energy, dealing extra Force damage, pushing the target away etc.
Basically they should be more mobile than Monk but less able to do multiple attacks, and have their attacks have the nova potential of the Paladin, but with less damage and more additional effects, especially forcing movement.
Of course, if it would be a class instead of a subclaas, then you could have subclasses going for more control, more defense of allies, more attack etc. As a subclass you have to limit all of this, or create a huge subclass with a power list or perhaps a near-copy of the Battlemaster, with different, psionic maneuvers, which would feel more supernatural but also leas universally useful than the Battlemaster. For example no goading, no disarming, no precision, no rally, but better "Intercept" (like the maneuver on the new Class Feature Variants UA, but with range and maybe less stopping power), strange movement attached to the attack (in a "before or after" fashion) and the possibility of damaging yourself to pump up the attacks, representing the strain in applying psychic power.
The key is, like for the Psion, a lot of flexibility and "sacrifice X to improve Y", but inability to take unrelated powers. For example this "Battlemind" Fighter could take maneuvers only in predefined bundles or skill trees, so that you can't be both very mobile and very damaging or very protective.
 
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Chaosmancer

Legend
The general feeling should be these characters move in unnatural ways. A very cool feature/power for example was Skate: unnaturally sliding without friction on surfaces. Mechanics-wise, psionic warrior types should be able to do stuff such as very short range teleports to represent extreme sprints (psionic charge), like Zealots in Starcraft 2, or Spider Climb for part of the movement, short flights etc. Very high mobility, like the Monk in a way, but more supernatural.

Attacks-wise, there were many peculiar things. Psychic blades of course, but also far weirder stuff like melding of physical weapons with the body, making their arm become a blade. Also a lot of Smite-like abilities, where the weapon is charged with psychic energy, dealing extra Force damage, pushing the target away etc.
Basically they should be more mobile than Monk but less able to do multiple attacks, and have their attacks have the nova potential of the Paladin, but with less damage and more additional effects, especially forcing movement.
Of course, if it would be a class instead of a subclaas, then you could have subclasses going for more control, more defense of allies, more attack etc. As a subclass you have to limit all of this, or create a huge subclass with a power list or perhaps a near-copy of the Battlemaster, with different, psionic maneuvers, which would feel more supernatural but also leas universally useful than the Battlemaster. For example no goading, no disarming, no precision, no rally, but better "Intercept" (like the maneuver on the new Class Feature Variants UA, but with range and maybe less stopping power), strange movement attached to the attack (in a "before or after" fashion) and the possibility of damaging yourself to pump up the attacks, representing the strain in applying psychic power.
The key is, like for the Psion, a lot of flexibility and "sacrifice X to improve Y", but inability to take unrelated powers. For example this "Battlemind" Fighter could take maneuvers only in predefined bundles or skill trees, so that you can't be both very mobile and very damaging or very protective.

I don't want to be sarcastic, but you essentially just said you want a class with the mobility of a monk, damage of a paladin, and maneuvers of a Battlemaster fighter.

Might be a bit much no?

Especially since you want these things, but not in ways that other classes can do.

You want spider climb that isn't spider climb.
Short range teleports that aren't misty step.
Maneuvers that aren't maneuvers.
Sprints that I assume can't be "dash as a bonus action" like the monk, rogue and ranger.


And, I can't help but think, I could build this character as a Tabaxi Vengeance Paladin who multi-classes into Battlemaster. Just refluff it to be non-divine and psychic instead.
 

Lord-Archaon

Explorer
@Chaosmancer , I specified exactly that the final effect should be less damaging than Paladin, less miltiattacking than Monk, and less versatile than Battlemaster. This is how you balance this. Plus I specified that this is in case we have a class, where subclasses can focus on ONE of those aspects or roles, OR a subclass like the Battlemaster but limited in the choices so that you never end up with all these powers but only a thematically-interlinked subset.

So no, I don't want all that in one, far from what I meant.

Also, about the effects, if you feel this dire need of reusing spells, fine as long as there's no V,S,M comments needed to "cast" them (it shouldn't even be called "casting", but I digress.)
 

Lord-Archaon

Explorer
I can't help but think, I could build this character as a Tabaxi Vengeance Paladin who multi-classes into Battlemaster. Just refluff it to be non-divine and psychic instead.

This is exactly the reason why I wouldn't want to re-use existing elements. So you can't build the same with the existing elements because it would end up different. See?
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
@Chaosmancer , I specified exactly that the final effect should be less damaging than Paladin, less miltiattacking than Monk, and less versatile than Battlemaster. This is how you balance this. Plus I specified that this is in case we have a class, where subclasses can focus on ONE of those aspects or roles, OR a subclass like the Battlemaster but limited in the choices so that you never end up with all these powers but only a thematically-interlinked subset.

So no, I don't want all that in one, far from what I meant.

Also, about the effects, if you feel this dire need of reusing spells, fine as long as there's no V,S,M comments needed to "cast" them (it shouldn't even be called "casting", but I digress.)
This is exactly the reason why I wouldn't want to re-use existing elements. So you can't build the same with the existing elements because it would end up different. See?


I don't exactly see a "dire need" to reuse effects, but I think it is better than the alternative in some ways.

Let us take Misty step as an example.

Verbal only (so as silent as you like depending on houserules), bonus action, teleport 30 ft to a space you can see.

There are only two other "short range teleport" effects that are activatable when a player chooses that am aware of officially. Shadow Step, which is 60 ft and goes from dim light to dim light. And Hidden Paths which is 60 ft, limited by wisdom mod, and can also be used to teleport an ally instead.

But, if you are only doing 30 ft, they just say you cast Misty Step, because why would they write new rules?

If we get "psychic step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see" and "dimensional step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see" and "Long Step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see" and "Divine Step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see"... well doesn't it start to feel bloated?

This was a major complaint in 4e that I noticed, classes kept getting differently named abilities that did the exact same thing. And, it is kind of a waste of time and space to rewrite the same ability multiple times, just giving it a different name every time.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Let us take Misty step as an example.

Verbal only (so as silent as you like depending on houserules), bonus action, teleport 30 ft to a space you can see.

House rules aren't very helpful in a discussion like this. So going with RAW, it's very noticeable when a spell is being cast.

But, if you are only doing 30 ft, they just say you cast Misty Step, because why would they write new rules?

If we get "psychic step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see" and "dimensional step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see" and "Long Step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see" and "Divine Step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see"... well doesn't it start to feel bloated?

Sure, but you also need to be careful not to slip down that slope there.

This was a major complaint in 4e that I noticed, classes kept getting differently named abilities that did the exact same thing. And, it is kind of a waste of time and space to rewrite the same ability multiple times, just giving it a different name every time.
This isn't about all classes, most of which have already been written. This is about one class. Psion.
 

Lord-Archaon

Explorer
There, this is what I could think of when making a Battlemind, closely based on the Battlemaster.
Never mind the names, it's a quick thought experiment.

PSIONIC COMBAT (3rd level):
Psionic Maneuvers:
You learn a set of psionic maneuvers by choosing a Psionic Combat Discipline at 3rd level. You gain an additional Discipline at 10th level, and another one at 15th level. Each Psionic Combat Discipline has a static effect that is active as long as you maintain Psionic Focus on it (See below), and maneuvers that either require the expenditure of Psionic Dice, or allow it for extra effects. The maximum number of Psionic Dice you can roll on a Psionic Manuevers equals half your level, rounded up.
Psionic Focus: to benefit from the static effect of a Psionic Combat Disicipline and to use its manuevers you need to be Psionically Focused on the disciplined. You can do so by spending a bonus action and maintaining Concentration, like for a spell. Losing Concentration would make you lose your Psionic Focus, and would stop the static effect of the discipline you were focused on and any ongoing effects initiated by maneuvers.
Specific Psionic Combat Disciplines make you lose the Psionic Focus under certain conditions, or when you take a certain type of damage.
Psionic Dice: You have four Psionic Dice which are d6s. A Psionic Die is expended when you use it. You regain all of your expended Psionic Dice when you finish a short or long rest.

PSIONIC OVERLOAD (7th level): At any time while initating a Psionic Maneuver, you can choose to take from 1d6 to 4d6 damage and acquire as many Psionic Dice as the number of dice you rolled, to spend them on the maneuver. When you do so, you also acquire one level of exhaustion.
At 15th level you can take up to 8d6 damage, and acquire as many extra Psionic Dice.
Note that this damage could make you lose Concentration and Psionic Focus. This would prevent you from completing the manuever, but if this happens you would retain the Psionic Dice gained through this feature.

PSIONICALLY RELENTLESS (15th level): when you roll initiative and have no Psionic Dice remaining, you regain 1 psionic die, and decrease your exhaustion level by one.

Saving Throws: INT-based


PSIONIC COMBAT DISCIPLINES:

PSIONIC MOVEMENT
STATIC EFFECT:
Your speed increases by 5 ft, and you can move up to half of your speed on vertical surfaces. When you do so, you don’t provoke attacks of opportunity.
PSIONIC FOCUS CONDITION: You must be able to move to be Psionically Focused on Psionic Movement.
Psionic Charge: After using the Dash action, you can expend a Psionic die to teleport up to 10 ft, and make a melee weapon attack as a Bonus Action. You then add the psionic die result as extra Force damage. You can spend an additional number of Psionic Dice equal to half your level, each of them increases the teleport by 10 ft, and the damage by the extra Force damage by the amount rolled.
Psionic Dive: By expending one Psionic Die, you acquire a flying speed equal to your basic speed until the end of your turn. Creatures you hit this turn fall prone if they fail a Strength saving throw, if you attacked them from a higher position. You also add extra damage of the same type of your weapon, equal to the amount you roll on the Psionic Die. You can spend additional Psionic Dice and each die would increase your flying speed by 10 ft, and the extra damage on a hit by the amount rolled.
Cutting Sprint: When you use the Dash action, you can spend a Psionic Die to move through enemies without provoking attacks of opportunity, and inflicting Force damage equal to the amount rolled to the enemies you move through, or half if they succeed on a Dexterity Saving Throw. You can spend additional Psionic Dice and each die would increase your movement by 10ft, and the damage by the amount rolled.
Psionic Whirlwind: As an action, you can spend a Psionic Die to spin unnaturally fast and attack a number of creatures within your reach equal to the number you roll on the die. Make a separate attack for every creature. You can spend additional Psionic Dice to move 10 feet, and attack different creatures in range after you move.

PSIONIC BODY
STATIC EFFECT:
At the beginning of each of your turns you gain temporary hit points equal to your Intelligence modifier. If you lose your Psionic Focus due to damage, the Temporary Hit Points disappear before damage is applied.
PSIONIC FOCUS CONDITION: To be Psionically Focused on Psionic Body you must not be Poisoned or suffer from any disease. If you lose hit points (not temporary) to Poison or Necrotic damage you also lose Psionic Focus.
Force Metabolism: As a Reaction when you would take Poison or Necrotic damage or be infected by a disease, you can expend one or more Psionic Dice and become immune to the Poisoned condition and to Diseases until the start of your next turn.
You also gain Temporary Hit Points equal to the result of the Psionic Dice plus your Constitution modifier.
Weapon Meld: By expending a Psionic Die, you meld a weapon to your hand and arm, making it impossible to be disarmed and granting bonus damage equal to the Psionic Die for one attack per turn, as you manage to have perfect control of the weapon. Losing Psionic Focus on this Discipline ends this effect and makes you unable to hold anything with that hand until the end of your next turn, as your hand needs time to reshape itself to normality.
Note: you can only meld one-handed weapons to your arm.
Armor Meld: By spending a Psionic Die as a bonus action, you fuse your armor with your body, effectively changing the hardness of your skin. You gain a bonus to AC equal to the roll of the die, for as long as you remain Psionically Focused, up to one minute.
When this effect ends, you suffer damage equal to the rolled die.
Grappling Form: As an action, you can spend a Psionic Die and change your size to Large. You can then grapple up to three medium creatures that were adjacent to you, or one Large or Huge creature as your body engulfs them. You roll Athletics with a bonus equal to the amount rolled on the Psionic Die, and creatures grappled this way are Restrained until the grapple ends. At the beginning of each of their turns, the Restrained creatures take damage equal to the amount rolled with the Psionic Die.
You can move the creatures with you, but your speed is halved while you are grappling at least one creature.
When a creature escapes the grapple, you take damage equal to amount rolled on the Psionic Die.
 

Lord-Archaon

Explorer
If we get "psychic step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see" and "dimensional step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see" and "Long Step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see" and "Divine Step" that is "use your bonus action to teleport 30 ft to a space you can see"... well doesn't it start to feel bloated?

First of all, we would only get Psionic Step as an alternative, not one for every class.
Second, the Psionic Alternative would be more like 10 ft per PP or Psionic Die spent and have different effects (see my example above). So I am not in favor of repeating stuff and changing name. I am in favor of creating balanced alternatives, that might be more convenient for specific use case scenarios, less for others.

This was a major complaint in 4e that I noticed, classes kept getting differently named abilities that did the exact same thing. And, it is kind of a waste of time and space to rewrite the same ability multiple times, just giving it a different name every time.

Well, I am not aware of 4e powers that did exactly the same thing, but yes, one of their problems was not sharing absolutely anything between classes. What I am suggesting is not this, but a compromise much closer to the 5e end of the spectrum.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
For a discipline that's supposed be mastery of the mind, there's a whole lot of body modification going on in some of these ideas. Not that that's bad, per se, but it's pretty out there as far as effects go. Growing to size large, for example, is pretty far afield and straying dangerously close to being magic. GASP! Kidding, but you see what I mean.

For a psychic warrior, why not start with metabolic control influencing speed, strength and healing? Using the model above you could start off being able to buff one, and then work up to all three. There are a ton if effects and whatnot that could be layered on too.

I feel like the ask on what psionics should look like seems really high in some of the examples we've seen here and in other threads. Some of the mechanics seem fine, just a little OP I the nuts and bolts.

And I still think the Warlock is the best 5e engine for a Psionicist.
 

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