A new Unearthed Arcana just released, and it looks like we get to revisit psionics again! It seems the Wizards of the Coast have decided to take another crack at their last iteration of psionic options. They’ve completely cut the wizard subclass, and redid the fighter, rogue, and sorcerer subclasses. They’ve even gone so far as to add a new mechanic for psionics. So let’s take a look and see if these options are ready to blow some minds!
Before we get into the subclasses, let’s talk about the new mechanic that all of them possess: the psionic talent die. This is the die that is used to enhance your psychic abilities, but with a twist. This die is dynamic in that is shifts up and down in size based on how you roll. Roll really well and your die size will decrease, giving you better effects at the cost of times to use it. However if your rolls tend to be low then your die size will increase, giving you more staying power. It’s an interesting mechanic with some good flavor behind it. I’m glad to see some more complex mechanics make their way into the game.
The first subclass that this post of Unearthed Arcana explores is the fighter, newly named the Psi Knight. This subclass has been reworked from its previous iteration, but most of its main features have remained in tact, just with the numbers changed. The only thing I would’ve liked to see kept was the bulwark ability’s activation. It used to be activated by forgoing an attack, which was an interesting new way of activating an ability. I’d like to see that kind of activation explored more in the future. This version of the fighter seems like a lot of fun nonetheless, and could be a strong gish option alongside the arcane knight. The end cap for this subclass seems particularly fun. Once you get it, you can cast telekinesis with only your psi die as a limit. That means no somatic or verbal components, so you can become the ultimate psion. It feels a little disconnected from a fighter archetype, but this ability is the ultimate ability you’d think of for anyone with psionic powers.
The next subclass that’s been revisited is for the rogue. The Soulknife is a rogue subclass that keeps the whole Psylocke vibe. A psychic assassin that uses blades of psychic force. They can sneak in and out virtually undetected with their tool set. They get group telepathy, skill check failure protection, teleportation, and eventually even invisibility. This subclass is packed with good stuff, and we haven’t even touched on the capstone yet. With this ability, you can stun someone you sneak attack. It’s no monk stun, but this ability pairs nicely with the other. Of all the subclasses in the UA, this one seems the most likely to be toned down. I absolutely love everything that this class has going on, but I’m afraid it does all those things so well it may push out certain subclasses.
Replacing the wizard subclass, we have the new psionic soul sorcerer. After hearing about the psi die, I was super excited to see how the subclass would interact with the sorcerer point system. Unfortunately, there’s no direct connection between the resources. I would like to see there be some way that the two build off each other. As it stands, this class seems kind of basic. You have a different form of telepathy, more spells to pick from, and adding some damage. There are some blips of interest though. Having the ability to skip components for a spell is nice and flavorful. The other ability that deserves some attention is the mind over body ability. This ability is versatile and fun. I mean, you can just become Mr. Fantastic and turn your body into rubber to squeeze into places you shouldn’t. That’s going to be a big yes for me. These two abilities, combined with having two resources may be enough for this class to be fun to play. However, I think this class feels like the one that needs the most tweaking from a design standpoint.
Beyond the subclasses we have some new psionic flavored spells. Mind sliver and mind thrust have had revisions, but the real winner here is intellect fortress. Throw this spell on your barbarian, and watch as literally nothing can stop him. Having both resistance to psychic damage and advantage on all mind based saves will just shut down some encounters. If you get to put this on your whole party then you can sit back and watch all the mindflayers cry. What a fantastic spell.
The last part of this psionics themed UA is the feats. These feats include more options for psionic users to use their psi die with. There is also a feat that allows other classes access to the psi die, however as it is written now I don’t see it really being picked up. As it stands now, the feat only bumps up one stat point on its own. It gives you a psi die, but nothing to use it on. Even if there were another psionic feat that was crazy (there’s not), it would feel pretty bad to sink a level into gaining something you can’t use until four levels later. I’d like to see something simple like telepathy slapped onto it, even at the cost of the stat bump. Doing so would make taking this ability feel a lot better.
It seems like we are pushing ever closer to a full on release on psionics. I think the team has really stumbled onto something cool with the psionic die, and if they build more off of it then we could see some truly cool classes. I’m excited to see what other classes can bring with a psionic twist. I absolutely love the soulknife, and I can easily see these other subclasses rising to the same level. What do you think? Are you excited to see psionics come back? Which of these subclasses are you going to try first? Let me know down below!