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

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
Body alteration in the sense of melding with objects and other bodies is not something spells currently do, and it has its place in Psionics probably because of Akira's anime movie and related Japanese body horror (and their close relationship with psychic powers).
Akita’s abilities could be more like mutations and genetic manipulation if I am remembering it correctly. More like something out of x-men. Forgive me for remembering incorrectly I need to rewatch it now. That is a good thing.
 

Lord-Archaon

Explorer
Akita’s abilities could be more like mutations and genetic manipulation if I am remembering it correctly. More like something out of x-men. Forgive me for remembering incorrectly I need to rewatch it now. That is a good thing.
I am positive it originated from psionics. Do watch, it's a trip!
 

Lord-Archaon

Explorer
necromancy is tricks. There is definitely a place for psionic that can see and speak with the dead. People like mediums and seers that can sense and communicate with the afterlife. As well as doing psychic battle with such entities.
Would be tricky to differentiate, but a nice challenge. Hasn't been done before, that I remember of.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
I think its also important to not slide too far down the slippery slope of "of course psionics can do that too...". Some overlap between classes is fine, but too much smacks of greed.

My counsel would be to aim for a nice package of abilities that feels fresh and covers as much 'psionic ground' as possible without going overboard. The goal can't be to copy everything psionics has been capable of in the past - that ship has sailed, it was OP then and it would be OP now. If we get granualr and narrow the focus to the key elements and mechanics it'll be a more interesting and less contentious white room exercise.
 
The goal can't be to copy everything psionics has been capable of in the past - that ship has sailed, it was OP then and it would be OP now.
Psionics was certainly problematic when a tiny percentage of PC just got it 'for free' at random. Since it's been implemented as a class, though, it's just broken (or not) relative to comparable classes - like full casters.

5e has so increased the versatility of and eased restrictions on casting that much of the problematic issues with psionics in past editions would hardly stand out anymore.
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
Psionics was certainly problematic when a tiny percentage of PC just got it 'for free' at random. Since it's been implemented as a class, though, it's just broken (or not) relative to comparable classes - like full casters.

5e has so increased the versatility of and eased restrictions on casting that much of the problematic issues with psionics in past editions would hardly stand out anymore.
I agree. I was more indexing the notion that seems to prevalent in some quarters that a Psionics class essentially needs to be able cover all the bases of Fighter and Wizard with some Rogue thrown in for giggles, and then a bunch of extras thrown in on top of that. One class that has the options of 2+ and freedom to pick and choose is OP no matter exactly how or what those powers look like. Not just OP, but not also not particularly 5e either.

The basic outline I was thinking about is pretty much like the UA - a fighter type, a stealth type, and a more traditional psionicist caster type. Tie enough of the class related stuff (fighter, etc) into the subclass abilities, keep some of the other abilities keyed to subclass and use skill trees to prevent too much spread. Obviously you could go beyond 3 subclasses and key them off some of the traditional schools (or whatever people want to call them). You could keep a nice layer of general psionic abilities available to all to tie things together.

The above general model is why I'd use the Warlock as the engine. The patrons are the schools, the 'spells' are the general psionic abilities, and the 'invocations' cover school specific skill trees plus other ideas that feel more like mini-feats than spells. The trick is to work this so it doesn't feel just like a reskinned warlock, although I think it's more than achievable.
 

Chaosmancer

Adventurer
This isn't about all classes, most of which have already been written. This is about one class. Psion.
But the complaint is to the design philosophy. "Why does everything have to be spells" well, part of it is that the spells are already the mechanics they want.

Sure, maybe the Psion can get special treatment. But then, why not the X or the Y or the Z. Every release after them would start saying "well, they did it for the Psion, why can't they do it again" so it is important to understand the why of the philosophy instead of just looking at a single class.

First of all, we would only get Psionic Step as an alternative, not one for every class.
Again, like I said to MaxPerson, I was talking about the design philosophy of why they are choosing to make unified mechanics through spells. IF we allow it for one, why not the next?

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.
A fair point, your example (just from skimming) seemed to have some odd interactions, like requiring the dash to teleport, so it being best used when the enemy is over 70 ft away, and that likely means you ended up alone amongst them. But, honestly, if you want a system like that... build it? I don't think it would get through official channels with the main mechanic being how badly you can hurt yourself to oull off some mildly interesting trick and dump multiple dice into a single attack.

Also, does that armor trick allow you to spend those 4d6 from the damage? Increasing your AC by +12 might be a tad ridiculously OP.
 
I agree. I was more indexing the notion that seems to prevalent in some quarters that a Psionics class essentially needs to be able cover all the bases of Fighter and Wizard with some Rogue thrown in for giggles, and then a bunch of extras thrown in on top of that. One class that has the options of 2+ and freedom to pick and choose is OP no matter exactly how or what those powers look like. Not just OP, but not also not particularly 5e either.
A Moon Druid can assume a small, inconspicuous animal form and scout around like a Rogue, a bigger, tougher form, and hold the front line like a fighter, or stand back and rain lightning bolts and the like on the enemy like a Wizard.

And that's actually pretty 5e, which has little 'niche protection' left.

But, I suppose it's also a function of trying to squeeze psionics into just one class, when it was multiple classes in both 3.5 and 4e.
 

Cyber-Dave

Explorer
I'm fine with what they did for the psychic warrior and soul-knife. Many of the "psionic" classes from 3e, like the psychic warrior, soul knife, and Ardent felt like psionic variants of core classes anyway. Truth be told, the 3e psion and wilder sort of felt like psionic variants of the wizard/sorcerer respectively also. That, however, was what I always hated about 3e psionics. The options didn't feel much like the AD&D psionicist. I hope that alongside sub-classes that feel like the options from 3e we also get a class that feels like the AD&D psionicist.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
But, I suppose it's also a function of trying to squeeze psionics into just one class, when it was multiple classes in both 3.5 and 4e.
And there's where I don't think it needs to squeeze into one class though. I fully support the idea of a Psion base class. I don't think we'll get one until Dark Sun, but I'd love one.

That's the nice thing about Class vs. subclass in this edition really.

At the same time, let the Psychic Warrior be a fighter subclass (whatever you think of this iteration...), let the Soul Knife be a rogue subclass.

I don't think we need a Psion and a Wilder though. I really hated the Wilder as it just felt like "we need to mirror the Wizard/Sorcerer Int/Cha dualism for Psionics too!", which I disliked.
 
And there's where I don't think it needs to squeeze into one class though. I fully support the idea of a Psion base class.
Nod. There's too much of a current in the community of, "well, you only need one a class, or a sub-class, or a background," - even though 5e, just in the PH, has multiple ways of coming at the same thing. The classic Thief, for instance, is a class, the Rogue, has a rogue sub-classed named after it, and is neatly aped by any Background that lets you at Thieves' Tools.

At the same time, let the Psychic Warrior be a fighter subclass (whatever you think of this iteration...), let the Soul Knife be a rogue subclass.
5e does seem to have room for faux-multi-classing sub-classes - EK, AT, Bladesinger - but, at the same time, it seems to make room for full classes that could have, as easily, been done that way, like the Ranger & Paladin. And that's on top backgrounds with the wiff of a class about them, and, optionally, feats that let you poach class abilities, and, of course, actual multi-classing.

I don't think we need a Psion and a Wilder though. I really hated the Wilder as it just felt like "we need to mirror the Wizard/Sorcerer Int/Cha dualism for Psionics too!", which I disliked.
Psionics as a thing that just happens was pretty deeply ingrained early on, though, I feel like that's what the Wild Talent or Wilder or whatever is for. In 5e, I suppose that could be a Background and/or Feat, along the lines of many 5e backgrounds and feats that shade into Multi-classing by lifting key abilities from specific classes.
 
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Fenris-77

Explorer
Well, yeah, the Druid is a fine example, but there's some balance there that people wouldn't be happy with, specifically not casting spells while using that ability (until 18th level anyway). Nor does the Druid rain lightning bolts quite like a Wizard. But I'm nit picking. None of that obviates your point, which is well taken. The caveat there is that the farther you spread out the less depth you need to be prepared to get. I think Psionics fans wouldn't be happy with an actual generalist support character, or at least not one that's too general.

As far as squeezing goes, if you start with a d8 base and then split into Psychic Warrior and Psion, with a Soulknife or whatever as a maybe third, you could cover a lot of ground. Treat the PW like a Hexblade and go the other way with the Psion. Build basic psionic abilities into the class and then differentiate through the subclasses. Anyway, I like the idea a lot and I think it's got the minerals to do the job.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But the complaint is to the design philosophy. "Why does everything have to be spells" well, part of it is that the spells are already the mechanics they want.

Sure, maybe the Psion can get special treatment. But then, why not the X or the Y or the Z. Every release after them would start saying "well, they did it for the Psion, why can't they do it again" so it is important to understand the why of the philosophy instead of just looking at a single class.
You don't need to give them super special treatment, though. All you have to do is put a paragraph into the Psion class that says something like, "Psions don't use spells in the traditional sense. Rather their "spells" are inherent powers that they produce, rather than cast."

Then you can give them access to appropriate spells according to the traditional psionics lists, but they will be powers. ;)
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Sure, maybe the Psion can get special treatment. But then, why not the X or the Y or the Z. Every release after them would start saying "well, they did it for the Psion, why can't they do it again" so it is important to understand the why of the philosophy instead of just looking at a single class.
Well nobody gets their skills differentiated enough for you to actually have an idea of what you can accomplish i mean really. What about the ranger you say? ummmm so let's just give the ranger incantations and bat guano like they did in 1e because it cannot be that skills need details we arent giving any other skill details they are just attribute checks, nyeh lets just hand the ranger some mumbo jumbo right? (... because um tradition yeh that is why)
 

Chaosmancer

Adventurer
You don't need to give them super special treatment, though. All you have to do is put a paragraph into the Psion class that says something like, "Psions don't use spells in the traditional sense. Rather their "spells" are inherent powers that they produce, rather than cast."

Then you can give them access to appropriate spells according to the traditional psionics lists, but they will be powers. ;)
....

Which sounds like exactly what I was suggesting when I was told "if you feel this dire need of reusing spells ".

It is about not giving them special treatment, because the design philosophy is to reuse the spells they made if possible, instead of giving out multiple identical abilities that do the exact same mechanical thing.
 

Chaosmancer

Adventurer
Well nobody gets their skills differentiated enough for you to actually have an idea of what you can accomplish i mean really. What about the ranger you say? ummmm so let's just give the ranger incantations and bat guano like they did in 1e because it cannot be that skills need details we arent giving any other skill details they are just attribute checks, nyeh lets just hand the ranger some mumbo jumbo right? (... because um tradition yeh that is why)
I have no idea what you are trying to saw with all the hemming and hawwing and umming.

Skills aren't spells anyways? Ranger spells are ranger spells, and the spells each use the same mechanics as they do for anyone else?

I'm legit lost what you are responding to. Are you saying rangers should not have gotten spells and should have instead gotten "skills" that do what the spells did? That their other abilities should have been spells? That they should have been using foci this entire time instead of component pouches?
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I'm legit lost what you are responding to. Are you saying rangers should not have gotten spells and should have instead gotten "skills" that do what the spells did?
Should hmmm well that word "should" is a judgement call. Think of it this way If nature and survival skills were given more elaboration the need for spells for the ranger really wouldn't exist. In 1e especially it always felt like they pasted on spells at a high levels because they couldnt be bothered to develop a skill system to represent the extraordinary things he could do. (and the spells he did get were so low level when he got them they were useless).

Aragorn wasnt a spell caster and yet....
 
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