Occult Adventures Class Preview: The Psychic

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What do you get for the mind that has everything?


Illustration by Nemanja Stankovic

We always knew Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Occult Adventures would have a full 9-level caster who could cast all the biggest and baddest psychic spells. This was our psychic, running fully on the power of her intellect. The big challenge with 9-level casters is always making them unique without making their non-spell class features too powerful. Getting full spell access is a big deal, and doesn't leave a lot of room for other bells and whistles. This is also the Pathfinder RPG's first Intelligence-based fully spontaneous caster, drawing on the strange psychic structures of her mind rather than her force of personality. And that unique mental structure leads to...

Psychic disciplines! Because psychic magic is heady and full of occult weirdness, one of my priorities was making sure there was something for the player to wrap their head around a little bit more easily—a frame of reference for how her psychic works. Psychic disciplines fill that space by describing what techniques the psychic uses to access the spells from her mind. In many ways, it's akin to praying to a deity for a cleric or studying a spellbook for a wizard, but far more individualized to suit how psychic magic works. (This wasn't just useful for the players. Even the design team had some trouble wrapping our brains around the esoteric concepts this book talks about, so it was valuable for us too.) Much like sorcerer bloodlines, disciplines give additional abilities and additions to the psychic's spell list mirror bloodlines in many ways, and provide roleplaying cues. The disciplines didn't change drastically after playtest, except for a few balance and thematic issues, particularly in the pain discipline. The final version of the class adds several new disciplines: dream, faith, psychedelia, rapport, and self-perfection. Faith and self-perfection lend a bit of a divine feel and a bit of a monk theme, respectively. Some of these, like dream, required some of the new spells from the book to function properly, so we waited to add those until the final version.

Though our version of mental magic differs wildly from ye olde psionic rules, the psychic's phrenic amplifications were designed to recapture some of the feeling of augmenting spells. The psychic can exert herself to dig into the workings of her mind and mess with the very nature of her spells. Some of the new phrenic amplifications let the psychic read the thoughts of creatures affected by a spell, spend phrenic points to improve her undercast spells, or replicate metamagic feats.

Now, the biggest change to the psychic isn't really any of her special abilities. It's her spell list. From the playtest, the psychic spell list has expanded dramatically, including the vast majority of the new spells from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Occult Adventures. The psychic is also the only class with access to undercast spells. The spell list more than doubled in size from the playtest version. At the low end, the book introduces a telekinetic 0-level spell that hurls an object at an opponent. With high-level magic, the psychic can duplicate herself to be in two places at once, make a special ship that can take her and her companions on a voyage through dreams, or permanently switch minds with another creature.

Archetypes for the psychic have an interesting range. The psychic can get better at psychic duels (a new subsystem in the book) with the psychic duelist archetype, adopt physical mutations with the mutation mind, or shed her physical body with the formless adept. The craziest archetype we've included is the amnesiac, who forgets her own spellcasting ability and can attempt to recall spells to determine which ones she knows at a given time.

Logan Bonner
Designer

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Tags: Iconics Nemanja Stankovic Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Psychics Rivani
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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Cool another preview.

I hope the dream path is cha based.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I am a little disappointed that the disciplines changed so little. As much as I enjoyed the concept, the execution in the playtest felt flat, at least as far as the impact of the abilities went. It made for interesting flavor, but was almost nonexistent in practice. I guess I'll see how that turns out.

The phrenic pool was pretty lackluster as well, but it sounds like there was some improvement there, so that part's good news at least.

Contributor

Question: Does each discipline still have its own casting stat? That was my favorite part of the Playtest Psychic.


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I have to admit, I was not that blown away when I first heard about the Occult Adventures, but with every sneak peak and article, I find myself eagerly awaiting it. Amnesiac sounds really cool!


Looks cool, can't wait to see the book :)

Grand Lodge

A spontaneous INT caster? Sounds dangerous. I may have a new fave class. What's the balance? (I didn't see the Playtest Psychic)


I've been ambivalent about this class, I'll be honest. Full-casters are a big deal, and the last couple of new ones we've gotten have been very powerful indeed.

It being a spontaneous caster is a little easier on my mind, as those are usually more flavorful to play and easier to work with both as a player and a GM than offerings like the Arcanist, but I am still somewhat concerned that the Psychic sounds...pushed, much like the Arcanist was. Full-casting classes are generally by default some of the most powerful in the game even with far fewer class features than other classes, and it seems like the Psychic gets both. I just hope it's closer to the Sorcerer, where it's powerful but thematic and with limits on its abilities, rather than more like the Arcanist, which had much fuzzier flavor and honestly seems to me like it was built to be a casting class that steals nice things from every other arcane caster. It is kinda troubling to me that much like the ACG, the full caster seems to be focused on ways it's stronger now than it was in the play test while other classes often discuss both things that were gained and things that were removed. I merely hope Rivani is sharing the love with some of the other new classes like the Kineticist and Medium, that's all.

An intelligence based sorcerer-type is interesting, though, and if its disciplines give it a feel more similar to playing an oracle or sorcerer than playing a wizard, arcanist, or cleric, I'll be pleased with that. I'm curious how Formless Adept will play...

The Exchange

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Only class with Undercast spells? So no Ego Whip for Mesmerist. ~sigh~


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

That is unfortunate that none of the other classes will get to undercast.


It is a bit disappointing to hear that no other classes will have access to undercasting (which I really liked as a mechanic for spontaneous casters), but I'm really excited to see the full version of the Psychic carve out it's own niche among the full casters.

I;m dying to know more about psychic duels. Fingers crossed for a bonus blog preview about spells and subsystems?

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Here's hoping there's an analog to create demiplane where you can create dream worlds or have/access personal demiplanes inside a person's mind like Psychonauts.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cyrad wrote:
Here's hoping there's an analog to create demiplane where you can create dream worlds or have/access personal demiplanes inside a person's mind like Psychonauts.

Well, we already know mindscapes will be a thing, so I would be shocked if the psychic didn't get access to a spell that allows access to someone's mindscape, either astrally, or directly physically entering. Unless that's supposed to purely be a ritual thing.

Paizo Employee Designer

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Luthorne wrote:
Cyrad wrote:
Here's hoping there's an analog to create demiplane where you can create dream worlds or have/access personal demiplanes inside a person's mind like Psychonauts.
Well, we already know mindscapes will be a thing, so I would be shocked if the psychic didn't get access to a spell that allows access to someone's mindscape, either astrally, or directly physically entering. Unless that's supposed to purely be a ritual thing.

Well, there are the create mindscape spells, plus the spells that let you go into the Dimension of Dreams and walk into people's dreams. Of course, if you want to trap someone in their own mind permanently, you'll have to wait for level 9 spells. :)


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Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

New cantrips! *readies Two World Magic*

These new disciplines definitely lend themselves to some cool characters- psychedelia and dreams making for disconnected characters, and seem like great options to combine with that Mutation Mind archetype. (I'd want to get either of those a Figment archetype familiar for added fun.) Can't wait to see the Amnesiac specifics!

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Are there more ways for each discipline to recharge their abilities?

Which discipline would you consider the generalist?


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
Which discipline would you consider the generalist?

Arcane is the closest thing there is to a "generalist" Sorcerer, and there's nothing like that for Oracle, so I don't don't know if that's applicable. It's a Wizard concept that doesn't really carry over.


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Athel wrote:

It is a bit disappointing to hear that no other classes will have access to undercasting (which I really liked as a mechanic for spontaneous casters), but I'm really excited to see the full version of the Psychic carve out it's own niche among the full casters.

I;m dying to know more about psychic duels. Fingers crossed for a bonus blog preview about spells and subsystems?

Your preview, sir.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

I have been waiting for some new cantrips. Never understood why we never got fire and electrical versions of ray of frost.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
I have been waiting for some new cantrips. Never understood why we never got fire and electrical versions of ray of frost.

There's an electric one called Jolt hanging around somewhere - I believe it was in a Paizo Blog entry on cantrips that had gotten cut from Ultimate Magic.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
I have been waiting for some new cantrips. Never understood why we never got fire and electrical versions of ray of frost.

Fire is covered in Words of Power.


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Serisan wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
I have been waiting for some new cantrips. Never understood why we never got fire and electrical versions of ray of frost.
Fire is covered in Words of Power.

Truly, a well supported and oft remembered sub-system.


The only thing that bothers me is there is no explanation how these psychic mages work side-by-side with true psionic users. What is the difference? How does the Psychic acquire and utilize psychic magic in comparison to the Psion? Is there a difference between Psychic Magic and Psionics?

Last I checked Golarion setting says Psionics exists and it has not been errata'd so that means Psions, Wilders, Soulknives and other are still in the setting.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I suspect they're just trying to soft retcon it by not outright contradicting the existence of psionics (so those who have them can keep using them), but at the same time avoiding mentioning them again (using psychic magic as the replacement). I wouldn't expect any sort of clarification as to the interrelation between the two, as that would require acknowledging the deprecated version.

Personally, unless I really wanted to have both in the setting as separate entities (and I don't, as I think that's an unnecessary complication), I would just map the psionic classes to the closest equivalent psychic classes. NPCs who were Psions before are now statted as Psychics instead and so on.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

I remember an electric jolt cantrip in 3.5.

The only time I remember "psionics" mentioned in Golarion is when they were sill 3.5. Besides they have already said that psychic magic is pathfinder's version of psychic powers.


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Barachiel Shina wrote:

The only thing that bothers me is there is no explanation how these psychic mages work side-by-side with true psionic users. What is the difference? How does the Psychic acquire and utilize psychic magic in comparison to the Psion? Is there a difference between Psychic Magic and Psionics?

Last I checked Golarion setting says Psionics exists and it has not been errata'd so that means Psions, Wilders, Soulknives and other are still in the setting.

Psychic magic in Golarion is the psychic magic in Occult Adventures. Psionics are a third party creation that Paizo specifically avoided duplicating because as a former third party that usurped the company they used to develop for after being locked out of further publication they know better than to ruin their relationship with Dreamscarred Press.

You are, of course, welcome to keep using Psionics (encouraged even) in Golarion adventures and simply have different mechanics for the same flavor.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
Barachiel Shina wrote:

The only thing that bothers me is there is no explanation how these psychic mages work side-by-side with true psionic users. What is the difference? How does the Psychic acquire and utilize psychic magic in comparison to the Psion? Is there a difference between Psychic Magic and Psionics?

Last I checked Golarion setting says Psionics exists and it has not been errata'd so that means Psions, Wilders, Soulknives and other are still in the setting.

Psychic magic in Golarion is the psychic magic in Occult Adventures. Psionics are a third party creation that Paizo specifically avoided duplicating because as a former third party that usurped the company they used to develop for after being locked out of further publication they know better than to ruin their relationship with Dreamscarred Press.

You are, of course, welcome to keep using Psionics (encouraged even) in Golarion adventures and simply have different mechanics for the same flavor.

I'm actually a bit skeptical that Paizo would have recreated Psionics from 3.5 even if Dreamscarred never did so. Outside of the core rules, Paizo seems to have been pushing more and more to do things different than 3.5 and I feel that psionics was something they were always going to rework.

Not to discredit Paizo's support of 3pp, they do a fantastic job in that regard.


What in the name of all thing PAIZO is the Challenge Rating of 7 INTELLECT DEVOURERS? Rivani might be in some serious trouble from the looks of that picture.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Note that the article mentions a "duplicate self" high level spell -- that illustration may be for that particular spell. So Rivani is probably level 13+ there (depending on one's definition of "high level spell").

Contributor

Berselius wrote:
What in the name of all thing PAIZO is the Challenge Rating of 7 INTELLECT DEVOURERS? Rivani might be in some serious trouble from the looks of that picture.

6 Creatures is CR + 5.

8 Creatures is CR + 6.

So somewhere between CR 12 and CR 13. If Rivani is 12th Level, it isn't a completely hopeless situation.


7 Intellect Devourers adds up to CR 14 (4800 XP apiece x 7 = 38, 400 = CR 14).

A level 13 Rivani, alone, is CR 12...though the action economy of being one person probably makes that like CR 9 in practical terms.


Rivani'll be fine, I mean, they're two of her.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have to say, that artwork has me jonesing for more Vudra info. Fortunately we'll get a bit in the upcoming Distant Shores product, but I'd love the kind of treatment the Dragon Kingdoms got.


Generic Villain wrote:
I have to say, that artwork has me jonesing for more Vudra info. Fortunately we'll get a bit in the upcoming Distant Shores product, but I'd love the kind of treatment the Dragon Kingdoms got.

We almost certainly will. PFS seems to be going in a rather naga-centered direction at the moment so you can expect campaign setting information to support that.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

I would love more info on a lot of places...outside the Inner Sea region.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yay! New disciplines!

Dream and psychedelia in particular sound really awesome. I imagine rapport is the team's telepathic strategist.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Barachiel Shina wrote:

The only thing that bothers me is there is no explanation how these psychic mages work side-by-side with true psionic users. What is the difference? How does the Psychic acquire and utilize psychic magic in comparison to the Psion? Is there a difference between Psychic Magic and Psionics?

Last I checked Golarion setting says Psionics exists and it has not been errata'd so that means Psions, Wilders, Soulknives and other are still in the setting.

Unless it specifically mentions those classes, it doesn't necessarily mean that. It just means that psionics exist, a form of magic dealing with things that are telepathic, psychic, or paranormal. A class name implies a class, but psionics is just descriptive, not necessarily indicative of a particular system. Of course, I doubt they're going to specifically single out Dreamscarred Press' adaptation of psionics or even 3.5 psionics ported in as not existing, so you can certainly continue to use them in your game if you like, flavored however they like. But they're certainly not going to make it an official part of the setting, and psychic magic is what will be in that roles. As always, when adding third party material, it's up to individual DMs to decide how it exists, whether it be as traditional psionics or reflavored as another form of magic, such as the rune magic that Dreamscarred themselves suggests in Ultimate Psionics.


Yay! Intellect Devourers!

Sounds like a great class, I'm excited to read through the particulars when my hard copy of the book arrives later this month.

Paizo Employee Developer

Luthorne wrote:
Barachiel Shina wrote:

The only thing that bothers me is there is no explanation how these psychic mages work side-by-side with true psionic users. What is the difference? How does the Psychic acquire and utilize psychic magic in comparison to the Psion? Is there a difference between Psychic Magic and Psionics?

Last I checked Golarion setting says Psionics exists and it has not been errata'd so that means Psions, Wilders, Soulknives and other are still in the setting.

Unless it specifically mentions those classes, it doesn't necessarily mean that. It just means that psionics exist, a form of magic dealing with things that are telepathic, psychic, or paranormal. A class name implies a class, but psionics is just descriptive, not necessarily indicative of a particular system. Of course, I doubt they're going to specifically single out Dreamscarred Press' adaptation of psionics or even 3.5 psionics ported in as not existing, so you can certainly continue to use them in your game if you like, flavored however they like. But they're certainly not going to make it an official part of the setting, and psychic magic is what will be in that roles. As always, when adding third party material, it's up to individual DMs to decide how it exists, whether it be as traditional psionics or reflavored as another form of magic, such as the rune magic that Dreamscarred themselves suggests in Ultimate Psionics.

I'm actually curious to know where we've used the word psionics in our setting. I'm not in the office right now otherwise I'd search my database.

Paizo Employee Designer

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I think it's at first in the 3.5 PFCS book, and also a Vudra-based trait from early 3.5 traits.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Adam Daigle wrote:
I'm actually curious to know where we've used the word psionics in our setting. I'm not in the office right now otherwise I'd search my database.

The only place I've seen is is browsing traits on d20pfsrd- Latent Psion trait from the Legacy of Fire Player's Guide, which gives +2 to saves vs. mind affecting. A quick Google confirms that that's the original name. Fittingly enough, a Human (Vudrani) trait.

Ninja'd!

Paizo Employee Developer

Cool, thanks Mark and QuidEst. I figured it would have been pre-Pathfinder RPG.


Mark Seifter wrote:
I think it's at first in the 3.5 PFCS book, and also a Vudra-based trait from early 3.5 traits.

I believe so as well, my first recollection of it was in 3.5 PFCS where it called out wilder in the half-elf racial entry. I"m not certain if it literally called out the word "psionics" there though.

Dark Archive

I am excited. I like psychic magic because it honestly feels a lot more balanced than normal magic, and so I may change all magic in Golarion to work like psychic magic for my future campaigns(I'm fine with wizards wearing full plate as long as they also get scared by a demonic chipmunk and can't use their powers until they snap out of it).


I actually like some of golarion's fluff on psionics. Half-elves created the first psi-crystals, and can do prestigitation on mundane crystals at a touch.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Well I hope there will be at least some psychic magic crystal/gem items in the OA book.

I wonder if any of the new classes got some new weapon prof. added to there list.


Last books I have been this excited about were the 3ed players handbook, psionics handbook and oriental adventures. But nothing beats my curiosity of the new psychic magic flavor... mesmerist was my fave until I read the psychic preview!


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Blog wrote:
This is also the Pathfinder RPG's first Intelligence-based fully spontaneous caster...

*cough* Wildblooded Sorcerer (Sage Bloodline) *cough*


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gisher wrote:
Blog wrote:
This is also the Pathfinder RPG's first Intelligence-based fully spontaneous caster...
*cough* Wildblooded Sorcerer (Sage Bloodline) *cough*

I'm sure they meant by default, not by option.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm expecting the Psychic to quickly become my new favorite class. Spontaneous INT casting, a spell-list full of mind-affecting and telekinetic spells, and even a couple of cool "alternate form/persona" abilities. All my favorites in a single class!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

I noticed they didn't say what next weeks preview will be.

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