Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana Revisits Psionics

The latest Unearthed Arcana from WotC revisits some psionic rules! “Shine with the power of the mind in this installment of Unearthed Arcana! Today we revisit several psi-themed options that we released in the past few months. Studying your feedback on those options, we’ve crafted this new collection of subclasses, spells, and feats, found in the PDF below.“

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
This could also be a campaign rule kind of thing. If we're going to play with psionics maybe everyone gets the wild talent feat for free to start (for Darksun say, or whatever).
 

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Another option (my preferred one!) is just having PCs start at 3rd level.

I agree that it feels odd not to have the psionics at 1st level for some concepts, but that's a familiar wrinkle of 5th Edition's design spreading the core toolkit over the first 3 levels.

My usual two PHB examples are an ex-soldier College of Valour Bard and a magic student who gets kicked out and turns to crime to get the materials to keep studying, becoming an Arcane Trickster - both concepts that fit well in their class and subclass, but feel like they start with the wrong abilities for the narrative if played from 1st level.

All this is to say: I'm not inclined to criticise these subclasses for that problem, as it isn't unique to them by any stretch of the imagination; my feelings on that matter are probably coloured by the fact that it's a problem that bothers me enough with PHB classes that I have a standard solution that works just as well for these subclasses as any other.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Besides sorcerers, warlocks and clerics also choose their subclass at 1st level, so with more psionic subclasses there will be more options for starting off psionic.

Warlock seems particularly appropriate, because they have relatively few spells in the first place. A handful of new psionic-focused invocations and you're there. Maybe a new Pact of the Chain option for psionics.
 

ccooke

Adventurer
Another option (my preferred one!) is just having PCs start at 3rd level.

I agree that it feels odd not to have the psionics at 1st level for some concepts, but that's a familiar wrinkle of 5th Edition's design spreading the core toolkit over the first 3 levels.

My usual two PHB examples are an ex-soldier College of Valour Bard and a magic student who gets kicked out and turns to crime to get the materials to keep studying, becoming an Arcane Trickster - both concepts that fit well in their class and subclass, but feel like they start with the wrong abilities for the narrative if played from 1st level.

All this is to say: I'm not inclined to criticise these subclasses for that problem, as it isn't unique to them by any stretch of the imagination; my feelings on that matter are probably coloured by the fact that it's a problem that bothers me enough with PHB classes that I have a standard solution that works just as well for these subclasses as any other.

Part of this is that 5e was designed with two natural start-points - 1st and 3rd. This is why levels 1 and 2 go so quickly, and why level 3 is the point when every class has its complete basic toolkit. I like starting at level 1, but it's very much 'apprentice level', to my mind.
 

Other option could be add "zero sublevels". For the zero sublevels the PCs wouldn't be stronger, at all, but they would learn, or "unlock" some things. Later all PCs could spend XPs for sublevels to unlock some feat or new tricks, but not really more powerful. It would be like playing Sims when these improve their skills, for example coocking or playing music.
 

maceochaid

Explorer
They definitely need to make some variants to Kalashtar and Gith that have "Psionic Talent" as a racial feature that would qualify them for the other feats.

So it could be something like for Githyanki Psionics (and this is totally spitballing) You can add your psionic talent die to your speed, and boost a jump. Githzerai Psionics you can add your psionic talent die to a saving throw, Kalashtar mind link you can add your psionic talent die to insight and persuasion checks. (again, spitballing broad outlines, the balance might be way off) but the idea is that it would set them up for expanding their Psionics with feats, or be able to take a psionic class and get some nice synergy with expanded options.
 

Connorsrpg

Adventurer
No no no! I know people seemed psyched by the psion-thing, personally I don't like this direction. I would like to see:

1. A Psion class with a new mechanic (not just spells, more warlock/ki-oriented maybe). Use Soulknife, etc. as a base for the subclasses maybe. I don't want to see Psi-subclasses for all 12 classes.

2. Latent Psionics for any class or race much like AD&D.

I don't think we need 3 or more classes for this.

Tracking Psychic Talent die just becomes a hassle. It is also explosive in a way when you get lucky to get a larger die. How does it make sense? You roll low on a die, and the next time you have more, roll low again and you get more? I don't know, at first glance it seems a needless hassle.... And why would you randomly choose to use more or less power when making the attempt to use it. It seems like you are a psion who has little control over your ability.

Maybe further looking will reveal something worthwhile, but for right now yawn.
There is a new mechanic for psionic characters. That dice mechanic IS what distinguishes them. You don't need a suclass for all. That is what the feat is for. To allow anyone to be psionic ;)
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
There is a new mechanic for psionic characters. That dice mechanic IS what distinguishes them. You don't need a suclass for all. That is what the feat is for. To allow anyone to be psionic ;)
Well, a dice mechanic is not my favorite (one of the reasons I dislike Battle Master, the superiority die :rolleyes: ).

Latent psionics would not require a feat, but I was thinking more a random check system. Of course, I understand the reluctance for this as people sometimes seem to roll better than you'd expect. ;)

Oh, and I would not want any psionic subclasses myself. Latent ability would not be tied to a subclass. Again, I understand others want psionic subclasses for some core classes, just not me. But that is fine, of course, it isn't just my game, and I don't have to use them if they eventually make it in officially. LOL!
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Well, a dice mechanic is not my favorite (one of the reasons I dislike Battle Master, the superiority die :rolleyes: ).

Latent psionics would not require a feat, but I was thinking more a random check system. Of course, I understand the reluctance for this as people sometimes seem to roll better than you'd expect. ;)

Oh, and I would not want any psionic subclasses myself. Latent ability would not be tied to a subclass. Again, I understand others want psionic subclasses for some core classes, just not me. But that is fine, of course, it isn't just my game, and I don't have to use them if they eventually make it in officially. LOL!

Honestly, the "rolling better than you expect" part isn't why I dislike random check systems.

For the person who doesn't want Psionics, it is pretty easy to refuse to roll and even if the DM forces them to roll, to just refuse to use the mechanics. But for the person who wants Psionics, they have to jump through a hoops of randomness to get them.

And because they end up not being able to get them when they want, then we expect them to be designed to be more powerful than a normal option.

Which means when a DM just says "yes, you can play the character you want to play" they are giving permission to be far more powerful than any PC who is not psionic.

It seems like a bad methodology and I don't understand the appeal of it at all.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Honestly, the "rolling better than you expect" part isn't why I dislike random check systems.

For the person who doesn't want Psionics, it is pretty easy to refuse to roll and even if the DM forces them to roll, to just refuse to use the mechanics. But for the person who wants Psionics, they have to jump through a hoops of randomness to get them.

And because they end up not being able to get them when they want, then we expect them to be designed to be more powerful than a normal option.

Which means when a DM just says "yes, you can play the character you want to play" they are giving permission to be far more powerful than any PC who is not psionic.

It seems like a bad methodology and I don't understand the appeal of it at all.

Well, I don't agree with some of your assumptions.

First, in AD&D (1E) most people who had psionics had very little and it left you vulnerable to special psionic attack modes etc. that non-psionics were unaffected by. Only if you were really lucky and had good INT, WIS, and CHA were you likely "more powerful" for being psionic.

Second, if a psion class is offered and you want psionics, play the psion. If you allow MCing, take a couple levels if you just want a bit. I would not want them as feats because feats are optional, for one thing (although 90% of tables use them IME...) but more importantly because they are few and fare between and compete with ASI, which are important as well.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Well, I don't agree with some of your assumptions.

First, in AD&D (1E) most people who had psionics had very little and it left you vulnerable to special psionic attack modes etc. that non-psionics were unaffected by. Only if you were really lucky and had good INT, WIS, and CHA were you likely "more powerful" for being psionic.

Ok, you realize that since my complaint was with random systems for powers, that a result of "you rolled well enough for special powers, you are now weaker and more vulnerable to attacks" is even worse than being too powerful, right?

Looking at this you would need to roll good Int, rool good Wis, roll good Cha then roll to gain psionic powers to play the character you want to play. What is the benefit of this randomness?

Second, if a psion class is offered and you want psionics, play the psion. If you allow MCing, take a couple levels if you just want a bit. I would not want them as feats because feats are optional, for one thing (although 90% of tables use them IME...) but more importantly because they are few and fare between and compete with ASI, which are important as well.

We ran into this on another forum, and it is honestly a bit tricky.

Someone was trying to convert Wild Talent into something PCs gained at first level, instead of being of feat. They even had a relatively clever way to balance the dice, by having the skill die portion only apply to skills you picked, which cost you the proficiency in that skill from your class or background.

However, they originally left the damage substitution alone, and this runs a big risk. Taking this option means you have the option for more powerful abilities later, it gives you a powerful ability now, and it gives you a neutral ability. It is purely a buff.

So what do you give the player who doesn't take it?

However, a much easier, and more common houserule, is simply to give everyone a feat/ASI at 1st level. Which I think is the better path, because then it is more easily balanced rather than 1) Are you feeling lucky enough to be more powerful or 2) Well, Bob just chose to be stronger than everyone.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Ok, you realize that since my complaint was with random systems for powers, that a result of "you rolled well enough for special powers, you are now weaker and more vulnerable to attacks" is even worse than being too powerful, right?

Looking at this you would need to roll good Int, rool good Wis, roll good Cha then roll to gain psionic powers to play the character you want to play. What is the benefit of this randomness?

No, I don't see that at all. The option was to roll for psionics if you wanted them. It was unlikely you would roll well or even have any, but if you did you could be powerful. The risk was weighed against the reward.

What is the benefit of this randomness? In a game where you roll dice all the time? This is part of an outlook on D&D I will never really understand... wanting to choose your scores and get max hp and everything else when part of the fun is the challenge of accepting what fate has given you and making a good play of it.

We ran into this on another forum, and it is honestly a bit tricky.

Someone was trying to convert Wild Talent into something PCs gained at first level, instead of being of feat. They even had a relatively clever way to balance the dice, by having the skill die portion only apply to skills you picked, which cost you the proficiency in that skill from your class or background.

However, they originally left the damage substitution alone, and this runs a big risk. Taking this option means you have the option for more powerful abilities later, it gives you a powerful ability now, and it gives you a neutral ability. It is purely a buff.

So what do you give the player who doesn't take it?

However, a much easier, and more common houserule, is simply to give everyone a feat/ASI at 1st level. Which I think is the better path, because then it is more easily balanced rather than 1) Are you feeling lucky enough to be more powerful or 2) Well, Bob just chose to be stronger than everyone.

Well I can't say anything about what someone tried on another forum. But by making it random, it doesn't cost anything to anyone. If you don't get it, oh well, that's how the dice fell, better luck next time.

Anyway, there isn't any point in discussing it. I've expressed my views and they aren't going to change. I like randomness in my game... :)
 

What is the benefit of this randomness? In a game where you roll dice all the time? This is part of an outlook on D&D I will never really understand... wanting to choose your scores and get max hp and everything else when part of the fun is the challenge of accepting what fate has given you and making a good play of it.
Characters aren't as disposable in 5e as they are in 1e. If you get a bad stat roll for a character in 1e, no biggie, just have them charge into the jaws of the nearest owl bear, you have 10 more characters in reserve. In 5e, people usually aren't making that many backup characters, since that mentality of ciewing PCs as expendable isn't there. So if the DM doesn't let you reroll, you're gonna be stuck with an ineffective character for a good while. Amd of you had created a concept for that character beforehand only for the stats to not pan out, that's gonna sting.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
What is the benefit of this randomness? In a game where you roll dice all the time? This is part of an outlook on D&D I will never really understand... wanting to choose your scores and get max hp and everything else when part of the fun is the challenge of accepting what fate has given you and making a good play of it.

I don't roll for HP in 5e.

Many people don't roll for ability scores, and I've insitituted a house rule that you can roll, or take the standard array if you don't like your roll (because too many times I've seen characters with multiple 5's and 7's)

And if you go too far the other way, why not roll for Race? Roll for Class? Roll for Feats?

Increasing randomness does not mean increasing fun. And you haven't really given a good defense of why rolling for psionics is a good system beyond "I like random results"
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Characters aren't as disposable in 5e as they are in 1e. If you get a bad stat roll for a character in 1e, no biggie, just have them charge into the jaws of the nearest owl bear, you have 10 more characters in reserve. In 5e, people usually aren't making that many backup characters, since that mentality of ciewing PCs as expendable isn't there. So if the DM doesn't let you reroll, you're gonna be stuck with an ineffective character for a good while. Amd of you had created a concept for that character beforehand only for the stats to not pan out, that's gonna sting.
That's just perspective and mentality as you say. A character can be as disposable or not in either edition. It also comes from having a concept in mind before you roll. Roll first and base your character off of that. Then it doesn't sting. ;)

When we played 1E, we didn't have 10 characters in reserve, we might have had a backup character just in case but that was it.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I don't roll for HP in 5e.

Many people don't roll for ability scores, and I've insitituted a house rule that you can roll, or take the standard array if you don't like your roll (because too many times I've seen characters with multiple 5's and 7's)

And if you go too far the other way, why not roll for Race? Roll for Class? Roll for Feats?

Increasing randomness does not mean increasing fun. And you haven't really given a good defense of why rolling for psionics is a good system beyond "I like random results"
I am not surprised you don't roll HP given your points of view.

I like rolling but have nothing against people who don't.

I don't mind game where you do roll for race, but that is personal preference as is everything else. Class you can develop so I see no point in rolling for that, but background I can see rolling for if you wanted to. Feats can also be developed, so no rolling is needed IMO.

Increased randomness is increased fun for me, and that is the only defense I will offer for my point of view. :D
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
No, I don't see that at all. The option was to roll for psionics if you wanted them. It was unlikely you would roll well or even have any, but if you did you could be powerful. The risk was weighed against the reward.

This exact same argument could be applied to random treasure tables, right?

You could get really lucky and roll a sentient Vorpal Sword with really great bonus abilities. That makes you much more powerful than other characters because of a series of lucky dice rolls.

Or maybe you already got lucky like that and you're a Paladin, and then you got lucky again and now you have a sentient Holy Avenger. (It would actually be an interesting game to see what those odds are, rolling 3d6 in order for abilities, and then rolling on the original DMG treasure tables.)
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
This exact same argument could be applied to random treasure tables, right?

You could get really lucky and roll a sentient Vorpal Sword with really great bonus abilities. That makes you much more powerful than other characters because of a series of lucky dice rolls.

Or maybe you already got lucky like that and you're a Paladin, and then you got lucky again and now you have a sentient Holy Avenger. (It would actually be an interesting game to see what those odds are, rolling 3d6 in order for abilities, and then rolling on the original DMG treasure tables.)
Well, accept you, the player, don't roll those things. The DM does. Which character gets what items is up to the group. For specific cases, such as the Holy Avenger, that character normally receives less of other things in the games I've been in.

Now, you are a party, right? So you should be glad your friend, ally, and comrade is now more powerful instead of complaining they are now better by random luck. In a pro team, a lot of players have more natural talent, and some team members might envy them that, but they are better for the team still to have there.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Well, accept you, the player, don't roll those things. The DM does. Which character gets what items is up to the group. For specific cases, such as the Holy Avenger, that character normally receives less of other things in the games I've been in.

Now, you are a party, right? So you should be glad your friend, ally, and comrade is now more powerful instead of complaining they are now better by random luck. In a pro team, a lot of players have more natural talent, and some team members might envy them that, but they are better for the team still to have there.

Honestly I'm not sure who rolls the dice, and whether or not the group votes, changes the underlying argument. The DM could say, "You guys roll the dice" for the random treasure table. And it's not like there's going to be much debate about who gets the Holy Avenger. Yes, there are some functional differences between the two, but I'm not sure they matter in the context of the arguments being made here.

In any event, I was making the argument in your defense. @Chaosmancer seems to find it unacceptable that one character should be more powerful as the result of random dice rolls, and I was pointing out that random treasure does exactly that.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Honestly I'm not sure who rolls the dice, and whether or not the group votes, changes the underlying argument. The DM could say, "You guys roll the dice" for the random treasure table. And it's not like there's going to be much debate about who gets the Holy Avenger. Yes, there are some functional differences between the two, but I'm not sure they matter in the context of the arguments being made here.

In any event, I was making the argument in your defense. @Chaosmancer seems to find it unacceptable that one character should be more powerful as the result of random dice rolls, and I was pointing out that random treasure does exactly that.

Ah, I get the point.

That isn't quite where I was going with it, but I see the similarities.

Let us say for arguments sake that you need to roll a 10 or less on a 1d100 to be psionic.

For someone who doesn't want psionics on their character, it doesn't matter. They don't want it, so they won't roll for it.

For someone who does want it, they now have a 90% chance to not have the character they wanted. So, it ends up being more likely they either won't use the system, or they will just be given the abilities anyways, ignoring the roll.

But, because there was only a 10% chance of any character being Psionic, the game was built to allow Psionics to be unbalanced, with the theory that you can't really expect them to show up.


That all seems like a poor design though.

I find it better to design Psionics to be balanced, or have a cost that is balanced, from the beginning. Because the people who want it will likely get it anyways, and we don't need "but it isn't likely to happen" as a balancing act.

Magical Items are a bit different, in my mind, but I don't want to get bogged down in discussing them.
 

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