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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."

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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Inchoroi

Adventurer
Eh.

I like the rogue and fighter subclasses. Interesting, flavorful without being unwieldly (only read twice, though).

However, I cannot stand the wizard subclass. I find the mechanics lackluster and if I wanted to play a wizard, I would have just played a wizard--I don't think it adds anything to the game.

I'm fine with psionics in general working like spells work; give me replacements for verbal, somatic, and material components, a "spell-as-power" list, and a new class that's called the psion. I want it to feel like a new and different class.
 


DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
High levels have historically been little-used in D&D, too. But 5e goes to 20th, just like 2e & 3e.
Yeah, but then WotC never bothered supporting high-level play with much of anything after that because most of the playerbase was never going to use it... under the expectation that the select few who did go all-in on high-level play would make their own stuff and/or get it off of DMs Guild.

The same thing could be said here-- WotC's going to go in at a baseline level of psionics with a few psionic sub-classes so there's something on the table for the few settings that want it... and then expect the small number of all-in psionic players to build additional and more robust systems to offer up on DMsG for the handful of players who have to have it.
 

Ashrym

Legend
If I adopt this approach, the new spells that are classified as psionics would not be freely available to other classes as a general rule.

When a "regular" bard say wanted one of those, we would discuss that fact that they are, at that time, gaining a psionic ability. (with rp and campaign considerations attached)

Those spells don't have a tag that says psionic. I fully endorse adding one if a person wants to make them more significant and I suspect many people would do just that.

It's definitely an option to keep psionics separate but it looks to me like the other spells listed as appropriate to a psionic character would need to have some similar consideration. There are over a hundred spells and only ten new ones.

Are you thinking only the new spells would be true psionics? That limits psionic ability but it's a possibility. A person could simply call that the psionic power list and consider a power and a spell version. That seems a bit awkward to me if a person mix and matches but powers them with the same spell slots anyway.

Saying it should be only a subclass is like saying warlock, bard, ranger or paladin should be only subclasses.

I disagree. I think psionicists can be a full class but I'm not seeing how adding a pseudo-caster is necessary. I would like to see a full class but if all it's going to be is another flavor of what we already have when WotC is telling us it's not an option they expect to see utilized then there's no real point to it.

I can already give sorcerers spell points and handwave components then give it a different label. Those other classes were included based on feedback during 5e playtesting. A full psionicist class will be created based on market research and feedback (in theory).

The player base would need to demonstrate the demand. ;)

At some point you have to branch out or you are going to run out of design space.

You mean like monopoly? Coke? Maybe create a new system, see it's not that popular, revert back to the original recipe, and see a huge success? The New Coke model.

That's just a bit of kidding and I understand your point, but design space is finite regardless. At some point there will always be that limit where more or new stops being productive. Branching out in a direction after doing an analysis to determine there's no market in that direction is not productive. Giving up resources on a smaller scale for existing fans is fan service, which is where it looks like we're at when it comes to psionics.

High levels have historically been little-used in D&D, too. But 5e goes to 20th, just like 2e & 3e. The Bard wasn't exactly popular in any prior edition (was consistently mocked for a long time, for that matter), nor the Druid, they both made the PH1 cut.

Being mocked isn't synonymous with unpopular. We would need data from WotC and their reasons for justifying that inclusion to make the popularity comparison without jumping to conclusions.

5E is exception-based so surely that wouldn't apply? The language is quite explicit. Adding Sneak Attack to Rend Mind seems just obscene.

Sneak attack doesn't apply to rend mind because rend mind is not a weapon attack. What's more interesting about rend mind is that the DC formula isn't standard. It's 10 + proficiency + INT mod instead of 8 + proficiency + INT mod. I don't know if that's an intentional rule breaker or if it's a typo but it looks like it could be significant.

Keep in mind rend mind is at the same level we see thief's reflexes and death attack. It's not like rogues don't have options to pump out some high damage at that level.
 

Staffan

Legend
In terms of 5e casting, in your mind, how exactly are Wizards different from Clerics or Bards?

They all have Foci or Component pouches. They all have the same exact spell slots. Bards are different in that they don't have to prepare spells... and that's it mechanically.

Spell lists are different, sure. But other than that they are pretty much exactly the same.

What would make the Psionicist different from these other three but still have them using the Neo-Vancian slot casting?
Well, a different spell list would be a start. Ideally, spontaneous casting - psions being knowledge-based might make them seem like a wizard analogue, but I don't know any psionics in fiction where the psion can change their power set based on the situation. They can learn new things to do, and sometimes their abilities change over time (e.g. Marvel Girl losing her telepathic powers when being rejuvenated by the Phoenix), but they don't change from day to day. Well, that's not exactly right, I know exactly one: comic-book Legion, who has like a bazillion powers, and each of them is controlled by a different personality.

I'd also like to see upcasting spells actually change the spells, not just make it stronger - similar to the way 3.5e psionics worked, though with spell slots instead of points. For example, in 3.5e psionic charm starts out as pretty much the same thing as charm person, but when augmented you expand the creature types it can affect (+1 level to cover relatively natural creatures, +2 levels to cover highly magical ones, and +2 levels to increase the duration to 1 day/level instead of 1 hour/level). In 5e, by comparison, you still have charm person and charm monster as distinct spells.

Basically, I don't see why Wizards want to make everyone, well, Wizards. Their first attempt at an artificer class was a wizard subclass, back in 2014 or 2015. That was universally panned, because Eberron artificers are specifically not wizards, and an artificer that doesn't work for the Eberron setting is bloody useless. The same goes for psionics and Dark Sun - psionics in Dark Sun are distinct from sorcery in all the lore, and any attempt to make psions a type of wizard breaks that like an obsidian blade shattering on the Dragon's hide. And a rules set for psionics that doesn't work for Dark Sun is again bloody useless.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
5E is exception-based so surely that wouldn't apply? The language is quite explicit. Adding Sneak Attack to Rend Mind seems just obscene.

You can't sneak attack with Rend Mind, because it is a saving throw, it is not an attack.

The language of "does 1d6 psychic damage on a hit" is just meant to give us the weapon damage die.



In 5E there's a difference between a turn and a round. A character or monster can have up to three turns per round - main action, bonus action, and reaction. And then there are monsters with Legendary Actions.

That is not how that works.

A turn is when you can take your actions and movement.

A Round is what contains all the turns for every creature or effect in the initiative.

What you are describing is three potential actions. Your main action, your bonus action, and a possible re-action. That has nothing to do with turns or rounds, except that you can only take actions and bonus actions on your own turn, and you only have 1 reaction per round.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
Being mocked isn't synonymous with unpopular.
Well, there's "love to hate," sure. ;)

We would need data from WotC and their reasons for justifying that inclusion to make the popularity comparison without jumping to conclusions.
I doubt inclusion ever came down to straight-up popularity. What was ultimately excluded from the PH that was actually on the table? Psionics & the Warlord. Not things that only a relative few liked (like the Druid, Bard, &c), but things that a relative few hated - in the refuse to tolerate sense, not the love to hate sense. ;)

I don't know any psionics in fiction where the psion can change their power set based on the situation. They can learn new things to do, and sometimes their abilities change over time, but they don't change from day to day.
Psionics are sometimes, like Wild Talent represents a bit, un-controlled. They go off when the psionic is stressed or frightened or whatever, or even just randomly and may manifest differently. Carrie was always a Teke, for instance, but when and how it manifested wasn't anything she consciously controlled. Alan Dean Foster's 'Flinx' had minor telepathic powers that were iffy, and other powers that manifested inconsistently.

It's not too odd for supernatural powers to change in genre. It's odd for them to change systematically at the whim of the character wielding them, as spells have always done in D&D.
 

renevq

Explorer
It doesn't feel entirely right... Mechanically the subclasses are fine, but other than the soulknife (to a certain point) none of them feels like a transcendent using their awakened mind to enhance their chosen role in the world. If that's the concept people want to play, it should also be available starting at level 1.

The psychic warrior makes a lot more sense hearing JC in the interview say that Darth Vader is the rationale behind it, but one character concept should not inform an entire subclass. You should be able to build it that way, but it shouldn't define the subclass's limits. I really like the ideas behind the psionic armament, telekinetic bulwark, and psychic dreadnought abilities, but the rest feels kind of tacked on, and a character should have more choice as to how their psionic abilities enhance their martial prowess.

The wizard also feels way off; it's as bad as having artificer as a subclass. From a concept standpoint I think intense study and rote memorization really doesn't jibe with a intense introspection leading to transcending reality and being able to see fundamental truths to which most people are blind (also the reason I think psionic abilities should be WIS based and not their legacy INT, but that's another issue).

I like the soulknife, but I'm not entirely sure it should be a rogue subclass. I think the mystic was overall a better idea of how to handle it, where your identity as a psionic character is there from the start, and you branch off from there; We've seen with warlock and artificer how a highly modular class with the right subclasses can make wildly different characters within the exisiting 5e framework, and that's how I think it should be handled (maybe with a warlock chassis).
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
To be fair, you could likely justify anything you want by turning to literature and video games.

There are multiple examples of powerful psychics time traveling, for example, and I'm sure there are a lot of times psychic powers were thought to be one thing, and then changed to another. Heck, Stands from JoJo are essentially psychic manifestations, and I could justify a lot of bonkers BS by turning to those.
 

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