UA: The Mystic Class Breakdown, Part Three
The new Unearthed Arcana document dropped toward the end of the West Coast working day yesterday, so getting an article up on the same day, while my perpetual goal, was a non-starter. It is a doozy of a release, weighing in at 28 pages and carrying all the context of its predecessors. In case you’re just now joining in on reading about the Mystic, it’s the 5e name for the Psion. This in itself is a thoroughly divisive point in the community, but I am a huge fan of that name change – it feels like an appropriate in-setting work for the great majority of settings (even of the subset that do include psionics).
(Also, I’ve covered the history of psionics in D&D in a lengthy series – check those out if you haven’t already, linked in a directory off of Part One, above.)
The Flavor Text and Class Core
The mystic’s flavor text has turned in the direction of the mystic as something rare, their power subtle in its use and never understood by those around them. That’s a pretty strong statement to impose on the majority of settings, though we can still expect Dark Sun and Eberron (if ever fully released in 5e) to take a different tack. This goes far enough that mystics have a d20 Quirk table, from which they are advised to select two. Many of these are lifted from various iterations of the 3.x wu jen class (it turns out that this isn’t mere coincidence). These quirks are presented as oaths or personal rituals. Some are substantially more meaningful to gameplay than others, particularly the one that stops you from hoarding money.
With six subclasses presented here, and based on what we’ve seen in earlier documents, I go in expecting a bare-bones core class, plus a lot of changes from subclasses. Of course, it’s also the first time we’ve seen levels 11-20, and they’ve got to figure out how to handle the equivalent of 6th-9th level spells in a point-based caster, so this will be interesting. (Hint: I’m going to be mostly wrong in that expectation.)
- d8 Hit Die, no change there.
- Light armor and simple weapon proficiency.
- Intelligence and Wisdom as proficient saving throws.
- Two skills from a list that is similar to but slightly better than the wizard’s options.
- Talents, starting at 1 and eventually increasing to 4. These are cantrips, more or less, so it’s disappointing that you start with just 1 – I’m of the opinion that giving spellcasters 2 or more attack cantrips, and thus reasons to pay attention to their situation and figure out which one to apply, carries a lot of water for basic gameplay. You get your second at 3rd level, so it’s not terrible. Most mystics should plan to take a damaging talent as their starter, though a few Orders can get away with relying on weapons for their baseline attack.
- Disciplines, starting at 1 and eventually increasing to 8. Disciplines are families of psionic options; comparing them to 3.x cleric domains is not perfect, but gives you the general idea. That’s what they’ve been doing with this class from the outset of its 5e incarnation, and it’s pretty neat.
- Psi points, starting at 4 and eventually increasing to 71. The progression makes no effort to be smooth: you get 64 at 10th level, only increasing to 71 at 18th These are, of course, the fuel for your powers.
- Psi limit, starting at 2 and eventually increasing to 7 – and reaching that limit at 9th level.
- Intelligence is the primary stat for psionics. This is going to seriously matter for various Orders.
- Psychic Focus lets you spend your bonus action to focus on a discipline and gain a passive feature from it.
- Mystical Recovery is quite a surprise. Whenever you spend psi points on a psionic discipline and have a bonus action to spare, you can regain hit points equal to the psi points spent. Right off the bat, we have two features in competition for the mystic’s bonus action.
- Telepathy – I’m a little surprised to discover that all mystics are telepaths, at least enough to send messages up to 120 feet to any creature with a language.
- Strength of Mind is a feature we’ve seen before. You can choose to dump your Wisdom saving throw proficiency and replace it with any other saving throw proficiency. I think that’s pretty neat. You can change your choice as part of any short or long rest. It raises a red flag about how this feature works for those who multiclass into mystic, and thus might not have Wisdom as a proficient saving throw. This document does not discuss mystic multiclassing, however.
- Potent Psionics, or Divine Strike + Potent Spellcasting for mystics. Good job structuring the feature so that both weapon and talent-using mystics get a damage boost at 8th I wish they had structured the cleric this way.
- Consumptive Power has been overhauled. Once per long rest, you can spend hit points rather than psi points to fuel a power. This also reduces your maximum hit points until you finish a long rest. Much better implementation of this concept.
- Psionic Mastery seems like it should be the mystic’s version of Mystic Arcana (the warlock feature). It’s not – it’s much stranger, and requires pretty careful bookkeeping. It grants a separate pool of psi points, and you can maintain concentration on multiple disciplines at once if they’re all paid for with this pool. You can’t mix your normal psi point pool and this one in paying for disciplines.
- To reframe this, what’s happening is that instead of getting 6th-9th level spells, the mystic gets to run multiple Concentration effects at once, within limits. It’s definitely a power multiplier, though its real effectiveness is buried in combinations. It’s also a lot more staying power for normal psionic use, as it eventually represents more than half of your psi power in an adventuring day.
- This scales both in number of uses per long rest (eventually 4) and the size of the psi pool (starts at 9, becomes 11 at 15th level).
- Psionic Body is the 20th-level capstone, and reminds me of… I think it was the Uncarnate prestige class? Anyway, a luminous being is you, not this crude matter:
- Resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.
- No aging. When 900 years old you are…
- Immunity (boo, hiss, I don’t care that it’s not until 20th level) to disease, poison damage, and the poisoned condition.
- If you die, you have a 55% chance to just phase out of existence and show up again 1d3 days later, very much not dead (and not a Force ghost, oddly). This is the kind of feature that might be more bad than good at 20th level – it’s not like the party cleric can do anything for you while you’re discorporate.
That brings us to the end of the core of the mystic class. Turns out it’s got a lot going on. My main takeaway is that they’ve ironed out a lot of things that weren’t working right in previous documents, and introduced new things that need serious scrutiny. This communicates a little more identity than, say, the wizard-writeup-sans-subclasses does: the body-mind connection is hammered home in multiple features.
The six mystic Orders in this document are the Order of the Avatar (leader-like empaths, somewhat reminiscent of the 3.5 Ardent and Divine Mind), the Awakened (still telepaths), the Immortal (psychometabolism, mainly), the Nomad (psychoportation), the Soul Knife (the 3.5-era Soul Knife class – they’re all about shaping psionic energy into blades and stabbing people with them), and the Wu Jen (mystics who dabble in wizardry). I’m sorry to see the Invisible Hand get dropped, even temporarily – it’s incredibly weird to see a deep psionics writeup without a telekinetic class to its name.
Order of the Avatar
Thematically, I don’t yet grasp what an empath who reshapes the emotions of others has to do with avatars. It’s not like that word is devoid of context in D&D, and especially not in 5e’s flagship setting. It’s almost taking more of a page from how Unknown Armies uses the term. Anyway, they get:
- Two bonus Avatar Disciplines. Sure, more options at 1st level is a good idea.
- Proficiency in medium armor and shields. Seems about right, since they’re going to wind up sharing the cleric’s general gameplay approach, I think.
- Avatar of Battle grants nearby allies a +2 initiative bonus. This is pretty underwhelming for your first feature that isn’t “more starting Stuff.”
- Avatar of Healing adds your Int modifier to your psionic healing effects, as long as your target is nearby. As I write this, I’ve only skimmed the Disciplines, but Psionic Restoration is the only healing Discipline I’ve noticed so far.
- Avatar of Speed allows nearby allies to Dash as a bonus action.
This is a seriously underwhelming subclass, overall. The mystic’s core features are potent, but the Avatar is pretty phoned-in – two features of more starting Stuff (nothing that really alters their gameplay), two features of flat adds to power use, and one new option to allies. There is just not much going on here. I hope to see substantial upgrades in the final version.
Order of the Awakened
In contrast to the Order of the Avatar, this Order has thematic clarity in spades. You’re Charles Xavier, go.
- Two bonus Awakened Disciplines. Still a good idea.
- Two additional skill proficiencies, chosen from a mostly-interaction-based list. Good support for psychic detectives and inquisitors here.
- Psionic Investigation means you need to make sure killers don’t leave items behind, especially not murder weapons, and keep the mystic away from the crime scene for an hour. It’s crazy hard to write a feature like this that doesn’t one-shot a mystery, though; at least in this case, the tactics that the murderer uses to avoid discovery are generally sensible and don’t require foreknowledge that an Awakened mystic is the investigator.
- Psionic Surge cashes in your psionic focus to impose disadvantage on a single enemy’s save against one of your Disciplines. This is almost never worth it, because you’re dumping a minor passive feature for something that still might or might not have any effect – that’s just the nature of disadvantage. You’re locked out of using your psionic focus again until you complete a short rest.
- This needs to be changed to cash in your psionic focus to force an enemy to reroll a successful saving throw, so at least you have some information (one successful roll) before spending the feature.
- Spectral Form is an alternate Psionic Body, again granting resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage, but also halving your speed and allowing you to move through solid objects. Overall, broadly useful.
The Awakened features are lower-impact than I would have expected, though still more influential on gameplay (getting to dominate investigation scenes is a big deal in some games) than Avatar mystics. Good stuff overall, though Psionic Surge is underwhelming.
Order of the Immortal
In versions of the mystic class we’ve seen so far, the Immortal has been a psychic warrior, and insanely dominating and hard to kill. This one, it’s clear, is greatly reduced from those heights. Notably, no extra armor, shield, or weapon proficiencies.
- Two bonus Immortal Disciplines. Sure.
- Immortal Durability grants one extra hit point per level (functionally like bumping them up to d10 Hit Dice), and gives them an alternate AC formula: 10 + Dex + Con. Wait… what? So you want them to have good Int and Dex and Con? Ooookay then. Depending on how their Disciplines shape up, I guess they might not need too much Int (maybe not a lot of saves or discipline attacks?), but…
- Psionic Resilience grants their Int bonus in temporary hit points at the start of each of their turns. It’s a passive self-only heroism, which tells you just how crazy good it is. And it tells you that no, they really do need Int for mitigation.
- Surge of Health cashes in your psionic focus to halve a single instance of incoming damage. This is a solid, reliable benefit, and I am a fan of panic-button mitigation for tanks. As with Psionic Surge, you’re locked out of your psionic focus until you complete a short rest.
- Immortal Will is one of the fairly few things to do in Denver when you’re dead dying, and also isn’t once per long rest – its only restrictions are its very reasonable psi point cost and that it can only be used at the end of your turn.
I like several parts of what I see here, but the alternate AC calculation in Immortal Durability is just not very good, unless you have a huge list of crazy high ability scores. It really feels like they should have armor, shield, and weapon proficiencies, because if you’re expecting them to use melee weapons (as the list of Immortal Disciplines clearly does), then they also need Strength or Dex for attacks. But also, what’s the archetypal image here? A person in plain clothes with a dagger that is inexplicably impossible to kill? Are they seriously intended as villains from slasher films? It’s rare, at this point, for WotC to go deep on multiple attribute dependency, but boy did they go all in for it here.
Looking at the Immortal Disciplines and the Talent list, there are a ton of damaging powers going on, but there’s this hole where “reasonably good, thematically appropriate at-will attack option” should be – without a psi point recovery mechanic, the Immortal has to use costly attacks (even in low-cost versions) every round, and that’s not ideal. It feels like that should be a weapon attack, but in general, characters that should use weapons for their at-will attack option get more proficiency options. As was pointed out to me, this would also be a good place for a faux-shillelagh Talent to amp up their weapon attacks each round.
Order of the Nomad
A subclass that is mostly about psychoportation is one I could have skipped completely – that’s a lot to ask out of teleportation as a character concept. Reading ahead, though, I see that Nomad Disciplines are interestingly character-defining… but the list is quite short.
- I am shocked, shocked to discover two bonus Nomad Disciplines going on here.
- Breadth of Knowledge grants two floating proficiencies in tools, skills, or languages, which you can reassign after any long rest. Sure, that’s handy for someone whose concept is wandering around getting into trouble.
- Memory of One Thousand Steps is an interesting rubber-band teleport, and a good reminder that Mearls loves Overwatch. Jokes aside, it’s a reaction that converts a hit against you into a miss, and that’s incredibly potent. (It also is a huge incentive to move at least 5 feet each round.) 1/short rest.
- Superior Teleportation boosts your teleportation distance from any psionic Discipline by 10 feet. Simple, straightforward, fine.
- Effortless Journey converts your move from walking to teleportation. Teleportation is the best movement form, by a long shot, but to be fair, it would be weird not to give Nomads a feature like this. It is their whole deal.
To my considerable surprise, the Nomad turns out to be probably my favorite of the Orders so far. It’s strong on style points. Looking ahead to the Nomad Disciplines, I see that Nomads are all about ranged weapons, so it’s interesting that martial ranged weapons are not on the table here. The light crossbow is quite good, though, and the Nomad gets around its limitations to some extent.
Order of the Soul Knife
Boy, is the theme on these guys thin. They’re either perfect warriors or perfect killers. That, my friends, is called “a distinction without a difference.” I recall the 3.5 soul knife getting used as a chassis for Jedi concepts, treating the soul knives as lightsabers.
- They don’t get two bonus Soul Knife Disciplines, because Soul Knives don’t have their own class of Disciplines. (They do still get Disciplines from other Orders normally, though.)
- Proficiency in medium armor and martial weapons.
- There is nothing about this that isn’t a weird decision. For armor, wouldn’t it fit the image more to give Soul Knives the alternate AC calculation (presumably 10 + Dex + Int) and give Immortals armor? (I’m basing this on Psylocke, who for most of her career doesn’t wear armor, I think. Oh, and Jedi.) And for weapons, why does the soul knife need weapon proficiencies beyond the soul knife itself?
- Soul Knife is, of course, their big feature – and such a Charlie Foxtrot on their action economy. Aie.
- Bonus action: summon a soul knife in each hand. They are light finesse d8 psychic weapons. I am genuinely surprised, and a little disappointed, that they don’t have the thrown property, even if they wink out of existence once they hit. It’s not like the character wants to spend a bunch of bonus actions switching over to a ranged weapon. I guess that’s what talents are for.
- Bonus action: dismiss the soul knives. Weird that it even requires that much, rather than just opening your hands and “dropping” them.
- Bonus action: parry with soul knives, gaining +2 AC until the start of your next turn. Suuuper weird to see a feature like this in 5e. Even weirder given that soul knives presumably duel each other, and even this bit of AC would get ignored. See below.
- Bonus action (unlisted but implied): attack with the off-hand knife. No off-hand damage add from ability scores.
- Hone the Blade turns psi points into a flat add to your soul knives – +1, +2, or +4 to attack and damage. No, I don’t know why it skips +3. The benefit lasts for 10 minutes. Does not cost an action.
- Consumptive Knife feeds you 2 psi points when you kill someone. Interesting to see any psi regen going on, and especially from the subclass that isn’t as hungry for psi points as the others.
- Phantom Knife lets you spend your action to make an attack against AC 10, rather than your target’s normal AC. You’re not sacrificing any Extra Attack, unless you’ve multiclassed pretty heavily, so I guess you just do this every round. It’s a unique action rather than an Attack action, where that matters.
The Soul Knife features present a really stylish image (that is, again, Psylocke), and a total focus on combat. I expect a fair amount of decision paralysis on how to spend your bonus action each round. I’m surprised there’s no handling for gear upgrades to the soul knives, as there is in the Pact of the Blade. Weapon-wielding classes with no interest in weapon upgrades are always kinda awkward. The subclass is fine, but I would love to see more setting integration.
Order of the Wu Jen
I did not expect to see Wu Jen show up in the mystic class, since D&D has always treated them as pure arcane casters, but sure, I guess this works for me. They’re the serious energy projectors (pyro, cryo, electro, hydro, photo, aero, geo, tele, and so on). Filing telekinesis under Wu Jen, as a general statement, does violate theme for me a bit, but at least other Orders can cherry-pick it just fine. This does get them out of building dozens of extra-weird spells just for Wu Jen, though (see the 3.5 Complete Arcane for more on this).
- Two bonus Wu Jen Disciplines. Since their Disciplines are some of the flashiest, I would expect no less.
- Hermit’s Study grants two additional skill proficiencies, from a fairly thematic list.
- Elemental Attunement lets you ignore energy resistance for 1 psi point, declared after you’ve used the power and discovered that the creature is resistant. Since your psi limit still applies normally, make sure you don’t max out your psi limit the first time you use an energy type against a particular creature.
- Arcane Dabbler lets you spoof three different wizard spells (which you can change out when you level), and convert psi points into spell slots. Creating spell slots costs a bonus action, but you can create the slot and hang onto it until you’re ready to use it.
- Elemental Mastery is an interesting conditional immunity: first, gain resistance to an energy type through whatever means. When you would take that type of damage, spend 2 psi points and your reaction to instead be immune to it until the end of your next turn. Right on.
The Wu Jen Disciplines are going to be everything for this Order – these features haven’t told me all that much about how the Wu Jen plays, except to make it clear that they are energy projectors who probably have some easy-ish way to gain resistance to various damage types. I feel pretty weird about the use of the Wu Jen name here, all the same; the mystic’s story is an odd enough fit as is, so what’s with the implied Asian influence? In combination with the Quirks (that were a wu jen thing in 3.0 Oriental Adventures and 3.5 Complete Arcane), there’s an uncomfortable “oh those Chinese spellcasters, so much weirder than our home-grown spellcasters” that persists into 5e. So I dunno.
The forty Disciplines presented here take up the lion’s share of the pagecount. I’m going to go fairly quickly through these, because my wordcount is already over 3500 and God bless you for reading this far.
Adaptive Body is more or less fine until you get to Energy Immunity, because an hour-long immunity for 7 psi points is going to break a lot of encounters (that is, one creature can go alone and solve them), while the mystic chills out and doesn’t risk their Concentration getting disrupted.
Aura Sight is fine, though I am unclear on how Perceive the Unseen interacts with total cover. Should it have some kind of range limit?
Bestial Form is the first damage-dealing Discipline, and it shows the core form of most damage-dealers: spend 1-7 psi points, deal that many dice of damage if you hit – usually d10s, sometimes d6s if there’s something else going on. It looks like most such powers lose any spent psi points on a miss, which is a big reduction in power from what we saw in previous mystic versions. Bestial Transformation also offers a +2 AC boost, which is a great help to Immortals scrounging for AC.
Brute Force a case of a damage-dealing power that uses d6s rather than d10s, because it’s a rider on a weapon attack. Getting to Knock Back a target up to 70 feet is pretty insane, and I imagine results in a lot of chances for falling damage. It does, at least, require both a melee weapon hit and a failed Strength save.
Celerity is still the place to dump psi points for Extra Attack-like functions, but most of the Discipline depends on using your bonus action for various things. Which means that one of the Orders that should be all about it – the Soul Knife – has a hard time using it. Like the Old Man in A Christmas Story, they have overloaded the electrical outlet on bonus actions in this document – there are just too many choices that you need and want to do all the time. There’s little use of reactions here, which feels like it could be a good space for Celerity.
Corrosive Metabolism – acid touch – goes way back in D&D psionics. Here they add in poison as well. It offers two different inflatable damaging attacks, one of which carries the poisoned condition as well, a damaging reaction, and two different damaging AoEs. If you want to kick out damage and only damage, this one’s for you. The two AoEs show some of the awkwardness of how psi limits mesh with cranking up damage – even when inflated with psi points, the acid breath weapon is a smaller area and less damaging than the poison breath weapon, so unless you are facing a creature with resistance to one but not the other, the poison breath simply replaces its predecessor.
Crown of Despair is a blend of damage and control. It’s interesting that only one of the powers is charm-like (that is, immunity to charmed is immunity to this effect). Overall this one seems useful and reasonably balanced. Its control is themed around simple inaction.
Crown of Disgust is a more involved blend of damage and control, with a focus effect that radiates difficult terrain around the mystic. Its control centers on interfering with movement to restrict options. Aaand right at this moment I realized that the Avatar Disciplines are the emotions from Inside Out, plus Command and Courage.
Crown of Rage has a very risky defender-like psychic focus effect. It also mixes damage and control, with a lot of forcing enemies to make bad tactical decisions – what an MMO would call an aggro redirect. It gets a little contrived because it’s drawing so many powers from the same concept, but it’s basically okay.
Diminution shows you can get a lot from being little. It’s a blend of stealth buff, unusual defenses, and a knockback. Strong on defense, nearly absent on offense.
Giant Growth is Diminution’s obvious opposite, and they didn’t have to get nearly as creative in designing powers here. This looks great for Immortal or Soul Knife melee brutes – even if all you do is maintain psychic focus on it to get 5 extra feet of reach.
Intellect Fortress has been one of the mystic Disciplines throughout playtesting, and I really like where it is now – an amazing defensive suite against many kinds of mind-affecting powers, with a very nice reactive defense against attacks.
Iron Durability is a big part of the answer to the Immortal problems I’ve mentioned above. It’s a broad defensive suite against attacks, especially b/p/s weapon attacks. It’s kind of weird that having a body of iron or steel does nothing for your unarmed attacks.
Mantle of Awe is a whole lot of charmed condition sources, and also a way to make all of your allies (but not you) invisible to a particular target. It seems all right.
Mantle of Command is pure mystic tactical-warlord-y goodness. Free movement, attack bonuses, extra attacks – it’s the whole package. You could do nothing but this and be terrifying.
Mantle of Courage is inspiring-warlord-goodness. It’s slightly less universally useful than Mantle of Command, but still solid.
Mantle of Fear is about what you’d expect from the name, though the particular implementation does interesting things – I like the “panic” upgrade to frightened, and I like the difficult-to-approach-the-mystic mechanic.
Mantle of Fury lets you make people angry, in a blend of the warlord-y mantles and the bad tactical decisions of Crown of Rage. The indiscriminate advantage on melee attacks of Aura of Bloodletting makes it an exciting choice.
Mantle of Joy has less going on than one would hope. This feels like a good place for some kind of overt healing effect, rather than just granting more temporary hit points. I’m not convinced there’s much of a PC niche for Aura of Jubilation.
Now we get into the Masteries, which are all Wu Jen Disciplines and, as mentioned, very flashy. There’s also a good bit of “why would you need anything other than this one Mastery Discipline?”
Mastery of Air offers damage, defense, movement, flight, and conjuration (really probably creation) of an air elemental.
Mastery of Fire offers damage, resistance to fire, zone damage, more damage, a damage aura, and conjuration of a fire elemental. Not as versatile as Air, but solid nonetheless.
Mastery of Force has a lot of the really classic telekinetic tricks, including some of the Bigby’s Hand concepts and force armor (Immortal mystics, take note).
Mastery of Ice is a combination of solid damage output and varied defenses – slippery ice, ice walls, and temporary hit points.
Mastery of Light and Darkness is sort of odd – great for darkening or lighting an area at first, and then it gets into conjuration and damage. This should be one of your later picks.
Mastery of Water is all over the place. Damage, forced movement with damage, soft crowd control, and conjuring a water elemental. Great broad-spectrum effects.
Mastery of Weather goes deep on damage-with-utility in a wide variety of functions. Hungry lightning is the simple version; everything else is more involved, and typically a sizable AoE. Wall of Thunder is especially harsh, as a highly damaging wall. Now the absence of a wall of fire from Mastery of Fire seems weird.
Mastery of Wood and Earth makes some atypical choices, such as changing a target creature’s Armor Class mid-battle. That is just not something that happens in 5e. This Discipline is quite varied: locking down foes that use weapons or armor, turning melee weapons into ranged weapons, improving the mystic’s mitigation, building a wall, and conjuring an earth elemental.
Nomadic Arrow is the sign that Nomads should be ranged weapon users. The focus effect to ignore disadvantage on ranged weapons means that shooting invisible enemies is no problem. That bugs me. Anyway, the rest of the powers are fine, and Faithful Archer acts like Extra Attack.
Nomadic Chameleon is the stealth one, both personal and team stealth. It’s enough to make you want to pair Nomad with Rogue or something. (Why don’t Nomads or Soul Knives, or at least a Discipline, get a little Sneak Attack action?)
Nomadic Mind is the really interesting addition to the Nomad’s psychoportation theme. It’s something like “synapses are roads too” and “having to explore everything on foot is bullshit.” This Discipline is phenomenal for most conceivable non-combat scenes. I’m also amused with Item Lore, because it fixes the one drawback that keeps biting my Diviner with his identify spells – some magic items are triggered by touch, and the identify spell requires touch… Also, Find Creature doesn’t get into what kind of information you need to have about a character before using it, so I see a lot of plot-spoiling possibility here.
Nomadic Step is sort of worrying, in that it gives so much teleportation power to any mystic who gets a hankering for the Nomad’s schtick. The Nomad uses these a little more effectively than others, but I’m not sure it’s enough. I’m surprised to see an absence of teleporting any distance greater than a mile (plus 10 feet). Even stranger, no astral travel. There are also useful “attack” and utility teleports here.
Precognition is always tough to design, since the DM doesn’t know what’s going to happen either (emergent play is emergent), so this is a combat-heavy Discipline full of self buffs. Cool, but maybe a little disappointing for the implicit promise of “I’m a precog!”
Psionic Restoration is the whole healing package, up through revivify and greater restoration, though there’s no way to heal as a bonus action (as with healing word), so that’s a little disappointing. Getting to both heal and attack (cast a cantrip/talent, whatever) makes playing The Healer a lot more satisfying, in my experience.
Psionic Weapon is here to make Soul Knives and Immortals into damage machines, using Lethal Strike. Because the Soul Knife needed more competition for their bonus actions. Augmented Weapon is the +3 weapon enhancement that was missing from Hone the Blades.
And then there’s Psychic Assault, which is just ridiculous. Psionic Blast (not to be confused with Psychic Blast, also a power in this Discipline) deals damage to one target. No attack roll, no saving throw – it’s an inflatable magic missile that deals 1d8-7d8 damage. I have no idea how this is okay alongside all the Disciplines that deal scarcely more damage, but have to worry about misses or saves. There are some damage-with-control powers, sure, fine, and then there’s Psychic Blast (not to be confused with Psionic Blast, did I mention it’s a power in this Discipline?) which is a high-damage AoE with better damage scaling than any other power we’ve seen (+2d8 for 1 psi point, rather than 1d:1). Oh, and Psychic Crush, which I am sorry to say is not a song on REM’s Green album, which is a high-damage AoE with a possible stun. Yikes. Psychic Assault is Best Assault.
Psychic Disruption looks like a real waste of time next to Psychic Assault, but if it weren’t for that, it would be a small but reasonably good damage-with-control Discipline. As it is, it’s pretty redundant with all the other damage-with-control Disciplines, both within the Awakened list and out of it. Mind Storm is pretty nice, though.
Psychic Inquisition is some straight-up Psi Corps mindfuckery, and I respect that. It has a damage option, so don’t be afraid to take it as one of your starting Disciplines, but you’re here for the stuff it gets later on. The potential for plot-breaking is high, but I think there are enough loopholes and requirements that it can stay interesting. I would consider something like Dark Side corruption for using this power to its fullest extent.
Psychic Phantoms looks a lot like an Awakened remix of some of the Avatar Crown Disciplines. It’s reasonably interesting in its own right, but it’s mostly superseded by other Disciplines.
Telepathic Contact includes handling for people who have this Discipline but aren’t mystics, which I assume is either for mystic-flavored subclasses of other classes (as Mearls has signaled that the true psychic warrior is a fighter archetype), or for wild talents. I’m particularly hoping for the latter, just to see how they handle that concept in 5e. Anyway, this Discipline is the more combat-useful variation of Psychic Inquisition – no damaging effects, but some great control, and also a telepathic team chat channel as its psychic focus. Do your pals a solid and get the Chat Client Discipline by around 5th level.
Third Eye is another Discipline that has been around for all of the documents to date. It’s a Perception enhancer, offering Tremorsense, advantage on Wisdom checks, Detective Mode from Rocksteady’s Arkham games (A+, would Batman again), and truesight. Good solid utility – maybe not one of your earliest selections, but not bad either.
All together, some Disciplines are a clear cut above others – Psychic Assault, Mastery of Force, Mantle of Command, and there’s basically no excuse for not eventually picking up Psionic Restoration. Even if you don’t want to Be The Healer, missing a chance at another revivify-like power (with no material component, even) in the party is just irresponsible. Some Disciplines feel like filler – they’re viable concepts in principle, but with a shorter power list and narrower applications, you can almost always find something better to do with a Discipline slot.
The final section of this massive document is Talents, which is to say mystic cantrips.
Beacon is light, but for mystics.
Blade Meld grants immunity to disarming attacks. Which monsters almost never have. This will almost never be worth one of your four precious Talent slots.
Blind Spot makes you invisible to one creature in a group until the end of your next turn. It’s a long-prep way to gain advantage, and it will be great if we get a mystic roguish archetype.
Delusion is minor image, but for mystics.
Energy Beam is a damage effect, Dex save to avoid, with an energy type chosen from a list of five. It’s fine.
Light Step is super-short-duration longstrider for mystics, but also lets you stand up from prone for free once in your turn.
Mind Meld is telepathic contact, but also shows you one memory of the target’s choice. This doesn’t seem like a great use of a Talent slot to me.
Mind Slam deals force damage with a knockdown effect – traditional telekinesis stuff. It’s fine.
Mind Thrust is mystic fire bolt, but psychic damage.
Mystic Charm is a super-short-duration charm. Still kind of odd for a Talent, but sure I guess? You can lock down one target for “free,” if you’re willing to keep spending your action on it and they keep failing the save.
Mystic Hand is mage hand for, er, mystics. Not mages. You know.
Psychic Hammer is like Mind Slam, but longer range and it pushes the target on a failed save rather than knocking them down in place.
I would call this document mostly a solid success. There are some issues in the Orders – particularly the Immortal – and a few Disciplines still need some tuning, but they took their time on this and I think it shows. The surprise favorite is the Nomad; they’re Mastigos warlocks from Mage: the Awakening, with their particular approach to Space/Correspondence and Mind. The Immortals have lost a lot since the previous document, and I’m not really sure what their point or theme is as a subclass. Right now they’re a power set, not an archetype, and their unarmored AC feature is probably pointless.
I predict that, as playtesting on this document proceeds, high-level mystics eat up a lot of time fitting as much power as they can into psi point limits of Psychic Mastery. Maintaining concentration on multiple things at once is cool, but it does scale up the out-of-character mental load and decision pressure – and it shows up for the first time when you already have a lot of options at your disposal. As long as you don’t sweat the things that aren’t quite working yet and have a lax policy on respending build choices, this class looks ready for full-time use to me. In no particular order, the Wu Jen, the Nomad, and the Awakened look like top-flight choices, and the Soul Knife is hard to judge but probably fine as long as you start with Psionic Weapon. As always, I’m curious to see what happens in the final release… or even what kind of book its final release shows up in. (And please, pretty pretty please, let WotC do us all a solid and add the mystic, the Awakened, and a smattering of Disciplines and Talents to the OGL.)