The newest Unearthed Arcana recently released, and with it comes some very exciting options. This round of UA focuses on giving the fighter, rogue, and wizard the ability to unlock their minds. Each class uses this mental enlightenment to augment their abilities. This manifests as three subclasses: the Psychic Warrior, the Soulknife, and the Psionics Tradition. So what are the benefits to taking one of these options? Besides becoming a hero from the movie Push that is. Let’s put our minds to use and pick apart this Unearthed Arcana on Psionics
First up is the new martial archetype for the fighter: the Psychic Warrior. Upon gaining this subclass, the fighter is able to use the psionic power of his mind to enhance his fighting prowess. This manifests as an extra d4 on all attacks, which seems strong but not outrageously so. For flavor, this one falls a little flat for me, as I’m having difficulty envisioning how this is explained in universe. The second part of this feature is the defensive side of combat. By spending your reaction, you can reduce the damage an attack does to a nearby ally by a d10. Compare this to the cavalier, which also defends other players. That subclass requires you to hit a creature to activate the feature, and when everything goes off you are rewarded with an extra attack that hits a bit harder. The other defending class, ancestral barbarian, might be better at higher levels due to granting resistance to damage, but still has the caveat of hitting first. This feature might see some tuning, as it outshines the other options, particularly in lower levels. You also gain an invisible mage hand at this level, which is a neat way of flavoring for psionics.
The new fighter archetype also gains the ability to perform a psychic assault on a nearby enemy. This feature seems useful without overblowing anything. It also seems fun to drag opponents around like a ragdoll from the old Psi-Ops game. The next feature, Telekinetic Bulwark, is very interesting. Not so much in the benefits, since area buffs are nothing new. The intriguing part of this feature is how it’s activated: by forgoing an attack. Action economy is a funny thing, and most of the fighter’s is spent attacking. Giving them an ability to use that doesn’t take up an entire action allows them more options in combat. I’d love to see more activations like this, as it creates a new dynamic for the fighter and other multi-attacking classes.
The next ability is a nice boost to damage, but nothing particularly exciting. The final feature is very interesting by comparison. Triggered by damage, which is something you don’t see in an 18th level ability, you get not only one benefit, but a choice of three benefits. The first one grants you health regeneration, and will probably be the go to choice most of the time. The next choice grants a speed boost, which is nice but pales in comparison to the first option. The third option will most likely be the least picked, as a discount on movement to get up is very, very niche. I’d like to see this replaced with something either more widely beneficial or more exciting. Overall this is an great addition to the choices at the fighter’s disposal. Another class with defender options is always welcome, and this subclass adds some cool and flavorful abilities. With just a little bit more explanation on flavoring the abilities, and some mechanical tweaking, this subclass could become a fighter fan favorite.
The new rogue subclass is the Soulknife. If you ever wanted to be Psylocke, now’s your chance. Upon choosing this subclass, you are able to manifest psionic blades. These blades are the core of the subclass’s identity, and are decently strong. You also have the ability to use your psionics to grant yourself a choice of two boons. You can either gain telepathy, or you can gain more health. The choice aspect of this feature is both cool and useful, but the health augmentation seems out of place for a rogue.
The next feature doesn’t come for a while, but the ability to frighten an opponent is pretty potent. The transition of mental power to physical power back to mental power is a bit odd though. The next feature is perhaps my favorite: the ability to use your psychic prowess to mask your presence, becoming invisible. This is obviously potent, but doesn’t come until a later level so it seems fairly balanced. The final feature stuns and deals a good amount of damage to a creature at range. Mechanically powerful, but not exactly flavorful. I’d like to see a feature that better shows mastery of a psionic assassin. Other than that the class is great. There are some really awesome things to love here, and mechanically it’s a very sound subclass.
The new tradition for wizards is the Psionic Tradition. Upon choosing this subclass, you gain a psionic focus. This is functionally identical to a spellcasting focus, with the benefit of rerolling ones for damage. Mechanically nice, but from a flavor standpoint I would’ve liked to see the ability to use psionics to cast spells using just the mind, with no need for a focus. The wizard also gains an augmented version of one of three cantrips. These augments allow the spells to be more psionic feeling, making the mage hand invisible, making friends undetectable, and making message completely mental. These are all nice small benefits to the spells that add flavor to the class. The forced choice of one does seem a tad underpowered and restrictive though. At this level the wizard got the short end of the stick.
The next ability allows the wizard to take on the form of pure psychic energy, allowing them to gains quite a few benefits. This is the showstopper of this class. The ability to transform yourself into a purely psionic being is so cool, and the benefits are pretty crazy as well. Big win on both sides of flavor and mechanics. The next ability is a spell mastery for one of a limited choice of spells. You also gain a damage boost to your psionic abilities. Mechanically solid, flavor fitting, but nothing too exciting. The final feature of this tradition enhances your psionic form, fully turning you into a psychic ghost. The ability not fly and phase through objects sounds amazing, well worth the grind to 14th level. Overall this subclass starts off a bit disappointing, but builds up to some pretty great stuff. I’d like to see some more interesting stuff at the early levels if any changes are made.
Along with subclasses, this Unearthed Arcana also gives us some new spells to play around with. There are some powerful spells here, but nothing that’s going to overshadow other spells. The only thing here that I’ve noted is a lack of utility spells. Every spell here is used for combat, offensive or defensive. We’re still early into the psionic testing, but I hope we start to see more spells that use the mind to conquer challenges that aren’t direct confrontations.
The final part of this Unearthed Arcana is a pair of feats. These let you bring psionics to any character, granting them either telekinesis or telepathy. Being able to gain a mage hand or telepathy no matter the character is fantastic, and these feats allow any character to do so without feeling like an auto include. Well done on a balnce scale, and fun on a flavor scale.
So what do you think of this Unearthed Arcana? Do any of the subclasses stand out as particularly powerful? Which one will you try first? Let me knw down below!