Occult Adventures Playtest Review – Day 5
This may be my most criticizing review so far, but I am trying to be honest and informative about these playtest classes. The victim today is the Psychic.
Psychic Description: “Within the mind of any sentient being lies power to rival that of the greatest magical artifact or holy site. By accessing these staggering vaults of mental energy, the psychic can shape the world around her, the minds of others, and pathways across the planes. No place or idea is too secret or remote for a psychic to access, and she can pull from every type of psychic magic. Many methods allow psychics to tap into their mental abilities, and these disciplines they follow affect their abilities.” – Occult Adventures Playtest
First Glance: We are finally going to be able to have that all-inclusive mind-melting psychic juggernaut that the world deserves.
Delving Deeper: Or not. When you first look at this class you notice the spontaneous casting for an Intelligence-based character. This is a novel idea, but poorly executed. You will notice the Psychic Disciplines that must be chosen, not unlike a school of magic or cleric domain. Each of the four disciplines uses a secondary stat (Wisdom or Charisma), which I actually like as it discourages ‘dump stats’. The disciplines seem to make the Psychic into a dual-class of sorts, with Lore closely resembling a bard or wizard and Tranquility resembling a cleric.
You will also notice the Phrenic Pool, a reserve of mental energy used to attach additional abilities to spells, but at a cost. The pool is connected to the secondary stat, but other than that it feels disconnected. The Phrenic Amplifications that the pool supports are too few to really get an idea about their effectiveness. And since you get both the pool and amplifications at level 3, the first one you would have to take is Will of the Dead (to affect undead with mind-affecting spells). Basically for 2 levels you are unable to do anything against undead and we all know that there are no undead in the fantasy world.
Check out what others are saying on Paizo’s Playtest Messageboard.
But I feel like I am bashing the psychic like Gallagher on a watermelon, but I see an interesting up-side to the way that psychic magic itself is cast. Psychic spell-casters are a separate branch of caster and effects that target arcane or divine casters do not affect them. It is a whole new branch of magic. And psychic magic’s components are different as well. They use thought and emotion components instead of verbal and somatic components. A thought component, which replaces the verbal component on older spells (color spray, etc.), is the actual visualization of the effect you are trying to achieve and requires any concentration checks to be 10 higher but spend a move action right before to center yourself to negate that effect. An emotion component, which replaces the somatic component of an older spell, requires the emotional will and desire to cast the spell. A psychic spell-caster under the influence of anything with the emotion or fear descriptor causes problems with casting a spell with an emotional component. I could definitely see a situation where a psychic is grappled, steadies his mind with a move action to lessen the concentration check, then blasts the grappler with mind thrust; all while being grappled.
And the notion of undercasting is interesting as well. Basically if you choose a spell to add to your spell-list like mind thrust III at level 6, you are automatically able to cast mind thrust I and mind thrust II as well, using the appropriate spell slot. That creates a little more versatility, especially since a psychic can switch out spells at level 4 and every even-numbered level after that. This means that if you had mind thrust I and picked up mind thrust II at 4th level, you could replace mind thrust I with another spell but still be able to use it at the 1st level spell slot because of mind thrust II and undercasting. Your spell list will grow stealthily.
Character Suggestions: Several concepts come to mind; a dwarven psychic with the Lore discipline who strives to collect more and more information about his people or an oread psychic who seeks perfection on a mountaintop with the Tranquility discipline.
3 out of 5 Rating: This class has a severe lack of psychic spells, even with undercasting as an option. At this point, I expect nothing but greater things to come from this class in future releases; more spells, more disciplines, etc. This class is just so basic as to be uninteresting and as flat as week-old Coca-Cola left on the basement table from the last gaming session. Okay, okay… not quite, but close.
Check out the previous days of reviews: