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Psionics Coming Soon To D&D?

WotC's Mike Mearls has hinted that we may be able to expect some psionics content soon, possibly in the Unearthed Arcana column. He was asked by Ethan Clow on the Twitterweb "any chance we might see a Psionic class for 5e soon? Perhaps in unearthed arcana?" to which he replied "wouldn't be surprised. I *might* have had a couple prior edition psionics books on my desk last week..." (Thanks to Wolf Hunter for the scoop).
 
Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
So what will the Psionics package look like? Here's my prediction:

1. Psion -- a full caster class, with a unique psionic casting mechanism and several specialties (disciplines), like the Wizard.

2. Psychic Warrior -- a martial archetype with psionic abilities (limited perhaps by discipline).

2. Soulknife -- a rouge archetype with the ability to make a mind blade that can be used for sneak attacks, plus limited access to psionic abilities (limited perhaps by discipline)
 

vandaexpress

First Post
Not on topic: Is there any community like the RPG tabletop one, where people dig in their heels as much as extreme pessimists and extreme optimists? It is often quite startling to read the comments in these threads. Nerdrage vs. Nerdlove. :) Nerd are passionate people it seems. (Is "nerd" a dirty or a cool word at this point in time? I haven't kept up?) EDIT: Not necessarily in this thread, but a few of the responses above got me thinking about it.

I can only handle so much ENworld in one day for this reason. So much of the D&D online community seems to be absolutely toxic. I started going to the forums when I came back to D&D after a long hiatus, as a dungeonmaster for 5th. I wanted to see all of the cool stuff and ideas that creative people surely came up with and shared in order to fill the gap of official content.

Man, was I in for a disappointment. Frequently, I find myself wanting to play LESS D&D after coming to these forums.
 

Staffan

Adventurer
I feel the same sometimes. But then I get a fresh boost of enthusiasm by watching Critical Role every Friday (it's on Twitch Thursday evenings in the US, but that's the middle of the night here so I watch it when I get home from work on Fridays).
 

doctorhook

Adventurer
I can only handle so much ENworld in one day for this reason. So much of the D&D online community seems to be absolutely toxic. I started going to the forums when I came back to D&D after a long hiatus, as a dungeonmaster for 5th. I wanted to see all of the cool stuff and ideas that creative people surely came up with and shared in order to fill the gap of official content.

Man, was I in for a disappointment. Frequently, I find myself wanting to play LESS D&D after coming to these forums.
I see your point, my friend, but I can only assume you weren't around during 4E, nor have you visited WotC's official boards. With only a few exceptions, ENWorld today is virtually Happy-Smiles-Fun-and-Rainbows-Land-of-Candy by comparison.

So what will the Psionics package look like? Here's my prediction:

1. Psion -- a full caster class, with a unique psionic casting mechanism and several specialties (disciplines), like the Wizard.

2. Psychic Warrior -- a martial archetype with psionic abilities (limited perhaps by discipline).

2. Soulknife -- a rouge archetype with the ability to make a mind blade that can be used for sneak attacks, plus limited access to psionic abilities (limited perhaps by discipline)
Psion should be a unique class, ideally with six full disciplines as subclasses.

Psychic warrior should just be a fighter subclass, like a psionic eldritch knight; there's no reason to reinvent the wheel when the perfect framework for a psychic warrior already exists.

I'm inclined to think the soulknife should just be a rogue archetype.
 

ehren37

Explorer
Psion needs to be its own class. Moreover, it needs to NOT use spells, otherwise you may as well not even bother. Its the lazy boring route, not mechanically diverse enough to really warrant the time it takes to refluff the sorceror. Hopefully they learned from the lukewarm reception the artificer got that 3 little subclass features isnt enough room to cram a class into.

Go back to how they ran in 2nd edition, with disciplines, devotions and sciences to create a tight thematic character that should ultimately play like a superhero. If you're going to model it on an existing class, the warlock chassis is a start, with short rest use of sciences, at will minor devotions and attack/defense modes and instead of invocations let them pick abilities that modify their devotions in wider capacities.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
I see your point, my friend, but I can only assume you weren't around during 4E, nor have you visited WotC's official boards. With only a few exceptions, ENWorld today is virtually Happy-Smiles-Fun-and-Rainbows-Land-of-Candy by comparison.

5e seems to be an unusual case compared to 4e - the majority of nerdrage for 4e was based in "my favorite edition of the game is BETTER than this edition!"

The majority of nerdrage over 5e seems to be based in nerdLOVE over 5e (it is for me, anyway). As in, "this game is AWESOME! Why can't I buy MORE of it???" I assure you very few 4th edition detractors were out there converting 3rd edition products to play 4e, nor 3rd edition complainers grabbing 2e sourcebooks to convert and play 3e. It is definitely not something I've seen in the game's history since I've been playing.

I'm prepping for a 5e Forgotten Realms game now -- and the majority of my material is from the 2nd edition sources from 1995, and the 3rd edition sourcebook from 2001 -- two 14 and 20 year old books, respectively. I can't wait to begin the campaign, and I'm thankful I still have the resources, AND I can appreciate WotC trying a different business strategy to make the game profitable, but I also see a bit of humor in the situation.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I predict psions will use spell.
Psionics fans will be angry at first but they will get of it. No one is going to rewrite all the spells as powers/sciences/disciplines except for book fodder.

My other guess is that there will only be 3 psonic classes: psion, psychic warrior, and wilder. The psion will subclass into the 6 discplines. The psy warrior will absorb the lurk, soul knife, and psionic monk. The wilder will be a combination of erudite, ardent, and wilder.

The third guess is the psionic points will refresh on short rests. The psion and wilder will look like a sorcerer with expanded spell list but their points are encounter like 4th edition but only affect cantrips. The psy warrior will get no slots by default and have to spend points for it like a monk.
 


Acr0ssTh3P0nd

First Post
AW man, bring it on. I mean, I HATE Psionics, and pretty much always have, but seeing some attention to psionics is a necessary first step to seeing Dark Sun material...

And with the new Mad Max out and getting rave reviews, there's never been a better time to get cracking with it :)
 

TerraDave

5ever
Way back when, they had a psion they where working on. It was mentioned. Way back in the early next days.

Would make sense as part of a Dark Sun UA article. That would have some interesting implications in terms of races, and equipment, and defiling.

I am sure we will see it some day.

EDIT: I think he hinted UA. BUT, in case we somehow need to be reminded, the other way it comes out is they do some DS related story, and this is the bonus material.
 

WackyAnne

First Post
On topic: Cool! I love psionics!

Not on topic: Is there any community like the RPG tabletop one, where people dig in their heels as much as extreme pessimists and extreme optimists? It is often quite startling to read the comments in these threads. Nerdrage vs. Nerdlove. :) Nerd are passionate people it seems. (Is "nerd" a dirty or a cool word at this point in time? I haven't kept up?) EDIT: Not necessarily in this thread, but a few of the responses above got me thinking about it.

For your second question...
In case my attachment meme doesn't work, please visit here for appropriate nomenclature ;)
http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z167/Great_WhiteSnark/Nerd_Geek_Dork_Cartoon.jpg
 

Acr0ssTh3P0nd

First Post
Way back when, they had a psion they where working on. It was mentioned. Way back in the early next days.

Would make sense as part of a Dark Sun UA article. That would have some interesting implications in terms of races, and equipment, and defiling.

I am sure we will see it some day.

EDIT: I think he hinted UA. BUT, in case we somehow need to be reminded, the other way it comes out is they do some DS related story, and this is the bonus material.

Holy sheet, what if psionics are just part of a Dark Sun UA that they've been cranking out because of Mad Max?
WHAT IF, THIS JUNE, WE GET OUR FIRST TASTE OF DARK SUN?

Great now Im all hyped over pure speculation.
 


Vael

Hero
As much as I want Psionic material, I do view UA articles as more or less Beta-testing material, as in, not official and not quite ready. So, yes, bring it on, but I'm still waiting for more "official" material.
 

Parmandur

Legend
As much as I want Psionic material, I do view UA articles as more or less Beta-testing material, as in, not official and not quite ready. So, yes, bring it on, but I'm still waiting for more "official" material.


Beta testing is good as it means when it is released, it will be solid
 

BoldItalic

First Post
As 5e is a rules-lite minimalist edition, I wouldn't expect psionics to be done with a whole slew of new classes and spell-like-but-differently-fluffed powers. All it actually needs is a single feat, analogous to Magic Initiate. Like this:

Psionic
You have awesome powers, beyond ordinary mortals, that almost defy description. Choose a cantrip from any spell list. You know this cantrip and can cast it on your turn as a bonus action without VSM components. If the cantrip has an effect that depends on level, your total character level applies. In addition, choose one first-level spell from any spell list. You know that spell and can cast it once per long rest without needing VSM components. You cast it at a spell level equal to half your character level rounded down (minimum 1st, maximum 9th level). Your spellcasting ability for these spells and cantrips is Constitution.

Something like that. Easy to add, easy to learn, easy to understand, doesn't need any new mechanics but will significantly change the way you build and play your character. Ready for playtesting. Is it overpowered? Is it interesting enough? Does it break anything? Let's find out.
 
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Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
(snip) Not on topic: Is there any community like the RPG tabletop one, where people dig in their heels as much as extreme pessimists and extreme optimists? (snip)

There is a joke about politics in academic circles that goes something like:

Q: Why are academic politics so vicious?
A: Because the stakes are so low.

Clearly that applies to RPGs even more.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Here is my hope for D&D Psionics. Every aspect in the following list is important to me.

• Psionics must be the inherent power of ones own mind. Mind-over-matter.
• Psionic options offer psionic feats, the Psion as a base class, and psionic subclasses for psionic versions of other classes.
• Psionics can be part of a Modern campaign setting guide.


MIND-OVER-MATTER FLAVOR

Most important of all: The flavor of psionics is mind-over-matter only.

No external power sources. No gods, no magic weave, no material components, no gp costs, no implements, no crystals, no ghosts, no Lovecraftian Far Realms taintedness, nothing except the power inherent in ones own mind.

All magic is magic, whether arcane, divine, ki, psionic, or the ‘magic’ of sci-fi future technology. Transparency is necessary for gaming balance and usability. The D&D psionic traditions never mainstreamed because of wildly imbalanced mechanics. There might be ways to distinguish power sources from each other mechanically in ways that make sense and seem balanced. But the difference between arcane and psionic is no greater than the difference between arcane and divine.

Psychic powers generally use Charisma and Wisdom. Charisma in the sense of mental force imposes ones will on people and objects in the world around. Wisdom holistically intuits aspects of the world. Intelligence seems the least useful mental ability for Psionics. But Psionic Wizard subclasses (see below) can utilize Intelligence to ‘understand’ and ‘calculate’ the material aspects of mind-over-matter.

Psionic magic items can exist, but they are objects that psychic individuals have imbued with their mind force by personal use and attachment. Psionic items might happen intentionally or unintentionally. Psionic items cannot be purchased or sold, because the ability to use them depends on the mindful permission of the imbuer.

Communities of psychic individuals can vaguely share powers via mindlinks, but this external source never becomes impersonal, and one oneself is always intimately part of this mind sharing. Psionic flavor is mind over matter, always.


PSIONIC FEATS AND CANTRIPS (1e-ESQUE)

Make cool feats available for any player character to take, regardless of race or class. Where 1e made Psionic powers a random chance, 5e can make Psionic powers available but in a balance way, by requiring players spend a feat to acquire psychic powers. The feat conveys the need to train and hone ones mental abilities. Similarly, make atwill Psionic cantrips available to any character that uses cantrips, including spontaneous Telekinesis (resembling Mage Hand but augmentable with spell slots), and Telepathy.

Make all feats and cantrips able to improve while leveling.


PSION CLASS (2e-ESQUE PSIONICIST, STAR WARS-ESQUE JEDI)

Create a Psion base class, with a nod to the atwill skill-based mechanics of the 2e Psionicist, but even more so with a nod to the skill-based mechanics of Star Wars ‘force users’, such as a Jedi class.


PSIONIC SUBCLASSES FOR PSIONIC VERSIONS OF OTHER CLASSES (3e-ESQUE, 4e-ESQUE)

3e and 4e made Psionic versions for other classes, offering appealing alternatives but adding excessive redundancy. To transmit the appealing aspects, while minimizing redundancy, create Psionic versions for some of the other classes by creating Psionic subclasses for them. Take the Psionic options and use the rest of the class in a Psionic way.

Wizard schools (without any material components or implements)
• Telekinetic Forcemage, a force user. A default Telekinesis cantrip works like Mage Hand cantrip, but is explicitly a telekinetic force effect (not a conjured disembodied hand), and is able to spend spell slots to augment the amount of weight that the force can lift and push. The Telekinetic school emphasizes force spells like Fly, Magic Missile, Unseen Servant, Wall of Force, Reverse Gravity, and so on. The augmentable Telekinesis cantrip replaces aspects of the Telekinesis spell. Spontaneous telekinetic Fly becomes available at higher levels.
• Telepathy is identical with Enchantment magic. The Enchanter is already a Mindmage. But emphasize the Telepathic aspects of Enchantment spells, defaulting with a potent Telepathy cantrip, including nonlinguistic communication of feelings and images. Also emphasize the Illusion spells. Illusion is an aspect of Telepathy, especially hallucinatory subjective Phantasm magic. But also reality-bending objective phenomena, with Glamer involving telekinetic enhancements for virtual realities, like the Star Trek holodeck. Even full-on Alter Reality associates with Telepathy.
• In 5e, spell slots are now spontaneous and work well for Psionic flavor. There is no need for a point system, but feature the DMG Spell Point mechanic for players who want one.
• 5e Psionic Wizard subclasses = 3e XPH Psion.

Sorcerer
• 5e Sorcerer = 3e Wilder.
• Also a good class for flashy elemental kinesis, involving fire, cold, stone, wind, etcetera.

Cleric domain (important: no gods), the power of ones own mind is the most potent healing force there is.
• a dedicated Psychic Healer, who heals as well as a Cleric because this subclass is a Cleric.

Bard college (as Psionic Arts)
• Abjurer, reality-altering, protective, restorative, abjuring psychic powers, along with Prescience/Divination/Luck, psychic intuition of knowledge and skills, as well as probability and timelines, plus Telepathy/Enchantment/Illusion.
• 3e Psychic Warrior. Where the melee attacks are themselves psionically enhanced powers, the Psychic Warrior needs to be a full caster, for the same reason that the Swordmage needs to be a full caster. The Bard and Druid are both full casters who are proficient in melee combat, and good places to go for Psychometabolic effects, including Shapeshifting (Polymorph, etcetera), which the Psychic Warrior exemplifies. The Bard coheres with mental abilities, while the Druid coheres with elemental abilities. The Bard allready has Teleport/Mind Outofbody Projection, to give the Psionic Bard a psychic twist. Make ‘phasing’ thru objects, ethereal magic, spontaneous, and atwill.

Druid circle (as mind is already natural), seems useful for mind-over-body effects.
• Shapeshifting/Psychometabolic Enhancement. Possible shapeshifting includes beast forms, nightmare forms, elemental forms, and human mimicking.

Rogue
• ‘Mystical Ninja’ subclass. The mundane Rogue subclasses already offer everything needed for a ‘Historical Ninja’. But the Psionic version can supply the more magical aspects of the Ninja, including Psionic Invisiblity as a mind effect, and Psychometabolic Enhancements including Phasing thru solid objects.

Monk (mind-over-body Psionics = Ki)
• the ‘flashy’ psychokinetic aspects involving fire, cold, lightning, etcetera, especially for ‘Last Avatar’ elemental bending flavor.

Ranger and Paladin, as half casters, seem conducive for ‘psionic-lite’ options.
• Dexterous Psionic Ranger can work for a Soulknife build.
• Charismatic Psionic Paladin can work for a simple Jedi build, in ‘force armor’.

Fighter - keep Fighter mundane only, but make Psionic multiclassing work well.


PSYCHIC THEMES

Psychic themes often cluster as follows.
• Prescience/Divination/Luck/Intuition/Knowledge
• Telepathy/Enchantment/Illusion/Reality Bending
• Telekinesis/Force/Flight
• Shapeshifting/Psychometabolic Enhancement/Healing/Phasing/Ethereality
• Teleportation/Mind Outofbody Projection
• Elementalism (Fire, Ice, Wind, Stone, plus Spirit/Light/Ether) - a thematic blend of Telekinesis and Shapeshifting

Pop parapsychology flavor emphasizes:
• Prescience/Divination/Luck/Intuition, ‘psychic’ premonitions.
• Telepathy/Enchantment/Illusion, mind reading, mind control, hallucination.
• Telekinesis/Force - telekinesis is a gravity-like force and is invisible (avoid ‘flashy’ elemental flavor like fire magic). But luminous phenomena like glowing auras and floating lights are appropriate.

‘Tomorrow People’ flavor emphasizes the ‘three Ts’:
• Telekinesis
• Telepathy
• Teleportation

Viking ‘mindforces’ flavor emphasizes
• Prescience/Divination/Luck/Intuition
• Telepathy/Enchantment/Illusion/Reality Bending
• Shapeshifting/Psychometabolism
• Teleportation/Mind Outofbody Projection

In Viking flavor, Prescients who can predict the future, intuit truth, and so on, are beloved heroes of Viking communities. Prescients function as leaders and advisers with very high status. Normally, Prescients are proficient in Telepathic mindreading. However, Telepathic attacks including mind control and illusions are considered unfair, sometimes respected but sometimes taboo. Telekinesis seems weak. Telekinetic flying and moving objects remotely are rare and unimpressive. Flight normally happens by sending ones mind outofbody, or by shapeshifting into a winged creature, or both, by sending out ones mind in the physical form of a winged creature. Shapeshifting, including the psychometabolic enhancements during berserk rages, alters the physical body according to a mental self-image. Relating to Illusion, reality bending is especially strong, like Twilight Zone, including demiplanes, and thematic transformations of people and environments.


PSIONIC RACES

• Reinvent the 4e Charisma-Intelligence Eladrin as a Psionic Elf, a cloud-dwelling wind-form luminous sky spirit.
• Giants and Half-Giants are awesome for ‘flashy’ elemental telekinesis, especially fire and frost, but also stone and wind.
• 3e Elan is still a favorite for post-human flavor.
• A disembodied mindforce, resembling the ‘Unseen Servant’ spell or an angelic spirit, seems appealing.

Make all race features able to improve while leveling.


MODERN SETTING

Psychic powers are especially helpful for Modern and Near-Future campaign settings. Make an official Modern campaign setting that features Psionics, and present Psionics via that setting.

But make sure, Psionics works seemlessly and unobtrusively for Medieval-esque flavor. Avoid technobabble (except possibly as a list of alternative ‘scientific names’ in an appendix that can be ignored).

Make the Modern campaign setting guide be a stand-alone product, including Modern versions of the Basic Rules. In addition to a Psion class, the Modern book has all the information needed to play the Psionic version of a Wizard, a Cleric, a Bard, etcetera.

Players dont need the Players Handbook, but of course can add Players Handbook options to the Modern guide, and viceversa.


IN SUM

Psionics is mind-over-matter, only. No dependence on external power sources. Only ones own mind is the source.

Make 1e-esque psionic powers available as feats and cantrips. Design the Psion class as a 2e-esque Psionicist and a Star Wars-esque Jedi. For 3e-4e-esque versions of other classes, create a Psionic subclass for Wizard, Cleric, Bard, Druid, and whatever classes seem appropriate.

Feature Psionics as part of a Modern campaign setting, but ensure it works seemlessly in Medieval-esque settings.
 
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