Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Psionics and You

All Right Game Fans, we’re back with our final look at the last component for the Mystic.  Today we’re going to take a look at Psionic Disciplines and Talents, and how they interact with your character and the rest of the gaming environment you’ll experience playing Dungeons and Dragons.  If you need a refresher on the terms we’re going over, feel free to check our article here http://zardozgames.blogspot.com/2017/03/mystic-1st-looks-more-detailed.html, and if you want a breakdown of the Mystic class, check here http://zardozgames.blogspot.com/2017/03/mystic-class-discussion.html.  Let’s take a closer look at the Disciplines and the Talents available to the mystic.  A lot of these are quoted from the original playtest material, and this is in no way a challenge to the copyright held by their respective parties (namely Wizards of the Coast).

Psionic Talents and Disciplines

These two sets of abilities represent the bread and butter of the Mystic’s abilities, and are the manifestation of the energies a Mystic generates through their impressive thought exercises and meditative practices.  Psionic Disciplines are often reflective of a specific Mystical Order, (usually the order that discovered the Discipline), but any Mystic can learn any Discipline.  
The Following is quoted from the article on Mystics, and my supplemental notes will show up in Italics

“Using a Discipline
Each psionic discipline has several ways you can use it, all contained in its description. The
discipline specifies the type of action and number of psi points it requires. It also details
whether you must concentrate on its effects, how many targets it affects, what saving throws
it requires, and so on. The following sections go into more detail on using a discipline. Psionic disciplines are magical and function similarly to spells.

Psychic Focus
The Psychic Focus section of a discipline describes the benefit you gain when you choose that discipline for your psychic focus.

Effect Options and Psi Points
A discipline provides different options for how to use it with your psi points. Each effect option
has a name, and the psi point cost of that option appears in parentheses after its name. You must
spend that number of psi points to use that option, while abiding by your psi limit. If you
don’t have enough psi points left, or the cost is above your psi limit, you can’t use the option.
Some options show a range of psi points, rather than a specific cost. To use that option,
you must spend a number of points within that point range, still abiding by your psi limit. Some
options let you spend additional psi points to increase a discipline’s potency. Again, you must
abide by your psi limit, and you must spend all the points when you first use the discipline; you
can’t decide to spend additional points once you see the discipline in action.
Each option notes specific information about its effect, including any action required to use it
and its range.”

Rather than the traditional method a spellcaster uses to cast spells involving spell slots, a Mystic channels Psi points into generating a specific effect.  In situations where a specific power has a range of costs available, it’s up to the Mystic in question to select the appropriate number of Psi Points to spend.  

Disciplines don’t require the components that many spells require. Using a discipline requires
no spoken words, gestures, or materials. The power of psionics comes from the mind.”

The Mystic does not require a focus or a component pouch to activate their psionic powers.

An effect option in a discipline specifies how long its effect lasts.
Instantaneous. If no duration is specified, the effect of the option is instantaneous.
Concentration. Some options require concentration to maintain their effects. This
requirement is noted with “conc.” after the option’s psi point cost. The “conc.” notation is
followed by the maximum duration of the concentration. For example, if an option says
“conc., 1 min.,” you can concentrate on its effect for up to 1 minute.
Concentrating on a discipline follows the same rules as concentrating on a spell. This rule means
you can’t concentrate on a spell and a discipline at the same time, nor can you concentrate on
two disciplines at the same time. See chapter 10, “Spellcasting,” in the Player’s Handbook for how
concentration works.

Targets and Areas of Effect

Psionic disciplines use the same rules as spells for determining targets and areas of effect, as
presented in chapter 10, “Spellcasting,” of the Player’s Handbook.

Saving Throws and Attack Rolls
If a discipline requires a saving throw, it specifies the type of save and the results of a successful or failed saving throw. The DC is determined by your psionic ability. Some disciplines require you to make an attack roll to determine whether the discipline’s effect hits its target. The attack roll uses your psionic ability.”

This works exactly the same way spellcasting works, except as noted

“Combining Psionic Effects
The effects of different psionic disciplines add together while the durations of the disciplines
overlap. Likewise, different options from a psionic discipline combine if they are active at
the same time. However, a specific option from a psionic discipline doesn’t combine with itself if
the option is used multiple times. Instead, the most potent effect—usually dependent on how
many psi points were used to create the effect—applies while the durations of the effects
Psionics and spells are separate effects, and therefore their benefits and drawbacks overlap.
A psionic effect that reproduces a spell is an exception to this rule.”

This is a basic explanation that Psionic abilities will not duplicate effects that provide the same benefit.  For Example, using a Psionic Discipline to give the Mystic +2 bonus to strength doesn’t combine with another application of the same psionic Discipline for a +2 bonus.  In situations where different strengths of abilities are used, the Strongest application of the ability is used, and the weaker effect is surpressed.  

“Psionic Disciplines by Order

Each psionic discipline is associated with a Mystic Order. The following lists organize the disciplines by those orders.

Avatar Disciplines
Crown of Despair
Crown of Disgust
Crown of Rage
Mantle of Command
Mantle of Courage
Mantle of Fear
Mantle of Fury
Mantle of Joy

Awakened Disciplines
Aura Sight
Intellect Fortress
Mantle of Awe
Psychic Assault
Psychic Disruption
Psychic Inquisition
Psychic Phantoms
Telepathic Contact

Immortal Disciplines
Adaptive Body
Bestial Form
Brute Force
Corrosive Metabolism
Giant Growth
Iron Durability
Psionic Restoration
Psionic Weapon

Nomad Disciplines
Nomadic Arrow
Nomadic Chameleon
Nomadic Mind
Nomadic Step
Third Eye

Wu Jen Disciplines
Mastery of Air
Mastery of Fire
Mastery of Force
Mastery of Ice
Mastery of Light and Darkness
Mastery of Water
Mastery of Weather
Mastery of Wood and Earth”

These are the disciplines separated by Mystical Order, and represent the bonus disciplines that are accessible by members of the specific order .  Because we’re not going to break anyone’s copyright or get ourselves into as much trouble, (if any) we’re only going to break down two of these abilities.  The rest are accessible in the Mystics article on Unearthed Arcana, which is accessible here http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/unearthed-arcana/mystic-class

“Giant Growth
Immortal Discipline
You infuse yourself with psionic energy to grow to tremendous size, bolstering your strength and
Psychic Focus. While focused on this discipline, your reach increases by 5 feet.
Ogre Form (2 psi; conc., 1 min.). As a bonus action, you gain 10 temporary hit points. In
addition, until your concentration ends, your melee weapon attacks deal an extra 1d4 bludgeoning damage on a hit, and your reach increases by 5 feet. If you’re smaller than Large, you also become Large for the duration.
Giant Form (7 psi; conc., 1 min.). As a bonus action, you gain 30 temporary hit points. In
addition, until your concentration ends, your melee weapon attacks deal an extra 2d6
bludgeoning damage on a hit, and your reach increases by 10 feet. If you’re smaller than Huge,
you also become Huge for the duration. “

So looking at Giant Growth, we can see a lot of potential ideas for a physically minded mystic.  The Discipline has two primary abilities, both of which are activated as bonus actions, and require concentration.  The weak of the two abilities is still capable of boosting a Mystic’s close combat abilities, as the increased benefit of reach and extra damage is nothing to sneeze it.  The Giant Form ability is an improvement on that ability, and makes the Mystic superbly dangerous.  

“Mastery of Force
Wu Jen Discipline
As a student of psionic power, you perceive the potential energy that flows through all things.
You reach out with your mind, transforming the potential into the actual. Objects and creatures
move at your command.
Psychic Focus. While focused on this discipline, you have advantage on Strength checks.
Push (1–7 psi). As an action, choose one creature you can see within 60 feet of you. The
target must make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, it takes 1d8 force damage per psi
point spent and is pushed up to 5 feet per point spent in a straight line away from you. On a
successful save, it takes half as much damage.
Move (2–7 psi). Choose one object you can see within 60 feet of you that isn’t being worn or
carried by another creature and that isn’t secured in place. It can’t be larger than 20 feet on
a side, and its maximum weight depends on the psi points spent on this ability, as shown below.
As an action, you move the object up to 60 feet, and you must keep the object within sight during
this movement. If the object ends this movement in the air, it falls. If the object would fall on a
creature, the creature must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or take damage as listed
on the table below.
Psi Spent  Maximum Weight Bludgeoning Damage
2         25 lbs.             2d6
3         50 lbs.             4d6
5        250 lbs.            6d6
6        500 lbs.            7d6
7        1,000 lbs.         8d6
Inertial Armor (2 psi). As an action, you sheathe yourself in an intangible field of magical
force. For 8 hours, your base AC is 14 + your Dexterity modifier, and you gain resistance to
force damage. This effect ends if you are wearing or don armor.
Telekinetic Barrier (3 psi; conc., 10 min.). As an action, you create a transparent wall of
telekinetic energy, at least one portion of which must be within 60 feet of you. The wall is 40 feet
long, 10 feet high, and 1 inch thick. The wall lasts until your concentration ends. Each 10-foot
section of the wall has an AC of 10 and 10 hit points.
Grasp (3 psi; conc., 1 min.). You attempt to grasp a creature in telekinetic energy and hold it
captive. As an action, choose one creature you can see within 60 feet of you. The target must
succeed on a Strength saving throw or be grappled by you until your concentration ends or
until the target leaves your reach, which is 60 feet for this grapple.
The grappled target can escape by succeeding on a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check contested by your psionic ability plus your proficiency bonus. When a target attempts to escape in this way, you can spend psi points to boost your check, abiding by your psi limit. You gain a +1 bonus per psi point spent.
While a target is grappled in this manner, you create one of the following effects as an action:
Crush (1–7 psi). The target takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage per psi point spent.
Move (1–7 psi). You move the target up to 5 feet per psi point spent. You can move it in the air
and hold it there. It falls if the grapple ends. “

The Mastery of Force ability is a completely different sort of animal than Giant Form, and provides a bevy of options for the Mystic.  Inertial Armor gives the Mystic force Armor, Grasp gives some interesting battlefield control options, Barrier does more of the same.  Push and move gives the Mystic a host of options for interacting with the battlefield and you can have a lot of fun with these abilities.  

When you sit down to select your Psionic Disciplines, look at abilities that interact with each other, and the abilities you are aiming to pick up as you level up.  A couple of your later abilities will give you temporary access to abilities outside this range, so it’s a good idea to give them all a once over.  

Psionic Talents

“Psionic talents are minor abilities that require psionic aptitude but don’t drain a mystic’s
reservoir of psionic power. Talents are similar to disciplines and use the same rules, but with
three important exceptions:
You can never use your psychic focus on a talent.
Talents don’t require you to spend psi points to use them.
Talents aren’t linked to Mystic Orders.”

As above, we’re going to take a look at a couple of specific talents, and the rest are accessible from the document linked above.  

“Energy Beam

Psionic Talent

As an action, you target one creature you can see within 90 feet of you. The target must succeed on
a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d8 acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage (your choice).
The talent’s damage increases by 1d8 when you reach 5th level (2d8), 11th level (3d8), and 17th level (4d8).”

Like many of the easily usable direct damage spells that are cantrips, the Energy Beam talent gives the Mystic a host of options for dealing direct damage to targets at a distance.  This is an incredibly useful ability that will scale up as the Mystic increases in level

Mystic Hand

Psionic Talent

You can use your action to manipulate or move one object within 30 feet of you. The object can’t
weigh more than 10 pounds, and you can’t affect an object being worn or carried by another
creature. If the object is loose, you can move it up to 30 feet in any direction.
This talent allows you to open an unlocked door, pour out a beer stein, and so on.
The object falls to the ground at the end of your turn if you leave it suspended in midair”

If you’ve ever wanted to call your lightsaber to you, this is your talent.  Giving you minor telekinetic abilities that mimic the mage hand spell, Mystic hand is full of interesting options and applications for the creative Mystic.

Now that we have covered the talents and disciplines that drive a Mystic’s capabilities, we’ve completed our review of the Mystic as it sits so far.  Again, this is an Unearthed Arcana article, so it’s all playtest material and subject to change at a moment’s notice. We hope this gives you a balanced look at how the Psionic powers work for the Mystic, and we’re back on our regular schedule, (hopefully) for next week.  That means a look at either the Unearthed Arcana features for the last two weeks, or we’re going to take a hard look at the Warlock class.  

Game on, Game Fans

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