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.“

F07971E8-C0BB-4025-A151-D48852409FCA.jpeg


 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I actually like the concept, but I don't expect it to survive in its current form. As @Elfcrusher suggested I think something you have more control over, or always gives better results (like superiority dice) is more likely in the end. I do like the idea that the abilities are exhausting and representing that with dice, which is what I think this is going on.
I feel like if they’re exhausting to the point where they need extra gating, they should probably also do more.

or, just make telekinesis a lower level spell and upcasting increases the size of the thing you can move and allows you to move increasing numbers of things at a time.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

dave2008

Legend
I feel like if they’re exhausting to the point where they need extra gating, they should probably also do more.

or, just make telekinesis a lower level spell and upcasting increases the size of the thing you can move and allows you to move increasing numbers of things at a time.
All depends on how it is executed. If the class is balanced it doesn't need to do more, if it is under powered it does need to do more. Personally I would prefer all magic had an exhaustion mechanic.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Personally I would prefer all magic had an exhaustion mechanic.

Just poping to say that I recently found in Giffyglyph's Darker Dungeon a nice mechanic for unsafe magic:
You have a Magic Burnout countdown die (d12 for a full caster). When you cast a spell of 1st level or higher, you roll the die. On a 1-2, you suffer from a burnout on a d100 list
BURNOUT CONSEQUENCES
d100Consequence
1-5Drained: Lose (spell level) hit dice.
6-15Reduced: Lose (spell level / 2) hit dice.
16-40Shocked: Lose (spell level x 4) hit points.
41-88Hurt: Lose (spell level x 2) hit points.
89-93Blackout: Disadvantage on casting for (spell level) rounds.
94Immolated: Shrink the burnout die to d4.
95Gifted: Regain this spell slot.
96Renewed: Regain (spell level) hit dice.
97Healed: Gain (spell level x 4) hit points.
98Protected: Gain (spell level x 4) temporary hit points.
99Energized: Advantage on casting for (spell level) rounds.
100Restored: Reset the burnout die to d12.

and you die is reduced by one size. The die reset at the end of a long rest.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
All depends on how it is executed. If the class is balanced it doesn't need to do more, if it is under powered it does need to do more. Personally I would prefer all magic had an exhaustion mechanic.
If it has an extra cost mechanic on top of the base class, it needs to do more than a subclass that doesn’t when using the mechanic that uses that extra cost mechanic.

Regardless of mathematical balance, if it feels like using Psionics costs more than casting Arcane spells, then using Psionics has to feel like it does more. Feeling of balance is vastly more important than mathematical balance.
 

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.)
Being psionic is something that your character is on creation, and may or may not be part of the actual concept of the character you're trying to create.

Finding a magic sword is just something that happens to that character during play, and you can react to it however you think that your character would.

I really strongly dislike the talent die. It's...just bad?

I can't see an upside to it, at all.

Psions are all amateurs with little control over how much power they use? No thanks.

Cool mechanic for a wild talent or as a replacement for the wild magic surge mechanic. Bad mechanic for literally anyone else.
It is useful as a bonus. It probably shouldn't determine whether or not a specific power activates, but it is good as an addition.

For example as subclass abilities: A telepath can roll their psi die and add it to Insight checks, or to a spell that deals psychic damage.

A Telekinetic can add it to an ability check that involves moving or manipulating physical objects, or to spells that deal force, or slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning damage.

Ditching a bunch of spells to gate their effects behind specific subclasses is garbage, IMO.
Depends on what you want subclasses to represent. I could see a telekinetic psion not having access to Dominate Monster or Foresight, but having Catapult and Telekinesis spells castable at will for example.
 


G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Being psionic is something that your character is on creation, and may or may not be part of the actual concept of the character you're trying to create.

Finding a magic sword is just something that happens to that character during play, and you can react to it however you think that your character would.

Sure. And a magic sword is something you wear on your belt, while psionics exist in your mind. A magic sword is detectable by detect magic; psionic abilities are not. You can use your magic sword to open a beer bottle, but psionics...hmm, maybe that's not a good example.

In any event, we can think of endless ways that a magic sword is not 1e psionics, but the similarity relevant to the point being made remains: they both are powerful character features that you can't choose; they are the result of random dice rolls. The 1e version of psionics is not unique in this way.

And if you don't like the magic sword example, there's randomly rolled ability scores. There's also HP. There's Deck of Many Things.

Again, I think the difference is that WotC, and some posters, think (or once thought) that psionics works well in the same category as magic items. That is, as character boosts that you can't really plan for or control for.

Other people think it should be more like choosing your class or subclass or feats: if you want it, you should be able to choose it.

Neither opinion is right or wrong. It's a difference of opinion about the design of the game. But recognizing/acknowledging that difference may help illuminate the source(s) of disagreement.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
It is useful as a bonus. It probably shouldn't determine whether or not a specific power activates, but it is good as an addition.

Could be interesting to give them a base ability, and allow them to power it up by downgrading the die, instead of having abilities that downgrade it automatically
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Could be interesting to give them a base ability, and allow them to power it up by downgrading the die, instead of having abilities that downgrade it automatically

I don't know what the exact mechanic is, but I'd love to see mechanics where there's a trade-off between efficacy and risk. I wish the default spellcasting system worked this way (since it doesn't, even though I'm not a huge fan of psionics it leaves me more open to the possibility). So give the psionicist the choice of what size die to use (up to their current max), with benefits for "downcasting".
 

Sure. And a magic sword is something you wear on your belt, while psionics exist in your mind. A magic sword is detectable by detect magic; psionic abilities are not. You can use your magic sword to open a beer bottle, but psionics...hmm, maybe that's not a good example.

In any event, we can think of endless ways that a magic sword is not 1e psionics, but the similarity relevant to the point being made remains: they both are powerful character features that you can't choose; they are the result of random dice rolls. The 1e version of psionics is not unique in this way.

And if you don't like the magic sword example, there's randomly rolled ability scores. There's also HP. There's Deck of Many Things.

Again, I think the difference is that WotC, and some posters, think (or once thought) that psionics works well in the same category as magic items. That is, as character boosts that you can't really plan for or control for.

Other people think it should be more like choosing your class or subclass or feats: if you want it, you should be able to choose it.

Neither opinion is right or wrong. It's a difference of opinion about the design of the game. But recognizing/acknowledging that difference may help illuminate the source(s) of disagreement.
To clarify: I am specifically discussing the suggestion of psionics being something randomly assigned in 5e.

I am aware how it used to work, but agree with the poster earlier in the conversation who pointed out that that doesn't fit so well with 5e sensibilities.
 

Could be interesting to give them a base ability, and allow them to power it up by downgrading the die, instead of having abilities that downgrade it automatically
Generally the die allows you to power up an ability by rolling the die and using the result to power it up, with the risk or a high roll giving you a good result on that ability but tiring out out for when you ant to roll the die again. Or to activate a power by an automatic downgrade.

Having an ability that you can use normally, but that you need to power up with an automatic downgrade is a 3rd psi die mechanic with a power level in between the two. I'm not sure it would be necessary, but I'll wait and see what sort of ability it would be used for before making up my mind.
 

Goemoe

Explorer
Don't like in in many ways. The talent die is a board game feature but we talk about role playing. Two identical charakters could end up with one char always roling 5, 20-30 fights in a row, the other roling a 6 and a 4 in two fight, being powerless thereafter. (And using the talent die and roling a one is in now way saving up to get a bigger die. It is using it. Saving up would be not using psionics. The whole system is merely flipping coins)

Other than that, the system lacks true psionic classes. A true mindmage, focusing purely on psionics, studiying them like a wizard does magic is totally different from a sorceror weirdo with some psionic talent.

For the fighter and the soul knife the system feels somewhat right, for the rest it doesn't.
 

Remathilis

Legend
To clarify: I am specifically discussing the suggestion of psionics being something randomly assigned in 5e.

I am aware how it used to work, but agree with the poster earlier in the conversation who pointed out that that doesn't fit so well with 5e sensibilities.
Agreed. 5e has no place for randomly assigned power. It barely had room for it before.


I make a subtle distinction these days; character design should not be random, but what happens to the character in play can be. For me that means:

Fixed:
  • Ability score points
  • Hp
  • Race/class/background
  • Automatically granted spells
  • Alignment and personality
  • Starting gear and gold

Random:
  • Treasure, including magic items
  • Found spells
  • Action rolls (attacks, skills and saves)
  • Death saves

Now, where psionics fit depends on when you get them. If it's when you generate your PC, it's a fixed choice. If it's an occurrence in the game (if you roll a natural 20 against a mind flayer) than it's random.
 

Visit Our Sponsor

Latest threads

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top