567 – Lowered Expectations

This all goes to show that investing points in a Craft skill (like, say, Craft: Cooking) can come in handy, folks. 🙂


As promised, here is my review of the new rules for the Mystic and Psionics in 5th edition D&D:

Wizards of the Coast uses the Unearthed Arcana articles on their website to try out new rules and options. Past articles have presented prestige classes and rune magic, how to adapt the Eberron campaign setting to 5E, adapting the class kits from 2nd edition to 5e, and now, psionics.

I’m one of those players who likes to play the more obscure character types, like the artificer in Eberron or the psionicist in Dark Sun. I remember reading the psionics tables in the back of the 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide and where, in order to even get the powers, you had to roll to see if just trying to gain psionic powers would end up killing you instead! Kinda hardcore, but I did end up with a paladin who could also use Ego Whip (Whip it! Whip it good! – Geez, I just dated myself)!

Psionics has gone through a number of revamps over the editions, but some of the key components have stayed the same: a psionic power point pool, being able to supercharge your powers depending on how many points you devoted to it, decent armor availability and some signature powers, such as the aforementioned Ego Whip, Intellect Fortress, and the Tower of Iron Will. Some of these also make appearances in the 5E rules, but some key items that would seem to scream out to be included are absent, such as telekinesis. One of the most common psionic abilities in popular fiction is absent here. Wizards have Mage Hand as a cantrip, why not the Mystic? Dress it up if you have to and call it something like “The Unseen Hand” or something. Grr. Other “traditional” psionic powers like teleportation and the actual mind-reading aspect of telepathy are also absent; you can control someone’s mind (to a limited extent) but you can’t delve into their memories or determine what they are thinking at that moment without their cooperation.

Having said all that, the rest of the rules seem decent enough. To run a psionic character, you choose the Mystic character class, which quite frankly rolls of the tongue a lot better than “Psionicist” ever did. When you do, you choose one of two Orders to follow: The Order of the Awakened and the Order of the Immortal. The Awakened are what most people think of when they think of psionics: telepathic, otherworldly, and more preoccupied with learning new secrets than going out to thump skulls. The Immortals are essentially what used to be referred to in editions past as a Psychic Warrior: martially-inclined, using psionics to make mind and body one. Knowing me, I would probably make an Awakened Mystic (as opposed to a Drowsy Mystic?).

This is the second version of the 5E psionics rules and in this one they have included a little something that they learned from the 5E magic system: a psionic version of cantrips called Talents. Like cantrips, talents can be used for free and are somewhat low-powered, like being able to give yourself nightvision for an hour, or being able to alter your density slightly so as to increase your movement speed.

The “Too Long, Didn’t Read” review: Overall, not bad, but not great either. Best to wait until they work the kinks out. I do look forward to seeing how much farther they take their ideas, though.

Take care,

~Rob

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