We all see you struggling Wizards of the Coast. Trying to find the right balance to introduce Psionic abilities as either a new class or subclass has proven problematic to say the least. While most players don’t want a whole new mechanic, Wotc has always tried to tie down psionics with power points of some type. Now, I know a lot of subclasses already have systems like Ki points, Sorcery points and fighting maneuvers, but most of the attempts to do something like this with psionics has only become clunky and hard to play.
So, here I am, once again, pitching a psionic subclass; and for Warlocks, no less! How dare me, right? But, to be perfectly honest, there’s going to need to be a Psionic set of Patrons for the warlocks; especially with the printing of Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. This tome introduced the Gem Dragons who are heavy into psi abilities. And, while developing an article about the Ruby Gem Dragon God and his Thanes, I realized this set would make a great patron…if Wotc HAD a Psionic subclass for Warlocks! Which they don’t or any other subclass. All we’ve gotten has been Unearthed Arcana that hasn’t sparked enough excitement to make it to any of the official books.
So, here, I too attempt to create a playable psionic subclass. And I tried to do one that was generic to any psionic patron, not just the gem dragons. So, I swerved away from breath weapons and growing dragon wings and tried to focus on making a generic psi subclass here.
If you really want to simplify things, you can just take the Great Old One Patron since it gives a lot of the trope spells one would expect. I was looking for something a little less ‘Other Worldly’ and more ‘rubber meets the road’ powers.
Expanded Spell List
The first thing that helps a Warlock a great deal is giving them access to spells NOT on the Warlock spell list, of course. But, what I found was that the spells that came to the forefront were possibly NOT the spells I should add. Spells that manipulate the mind and emotions, dominate and control enemies and sound like they belong (levitate and telekinesis come to mind) may not be the go to spells here.
For first level, instead of COMMAND, that seems to be an obvious, it would be just as easy to reskin some useful spells as psi powers. Even spells like HEROISM that gives temporary hit points and protects your party against fear affects, although a good addition, may not be the optimum. I even thought of using detect spells like DETECT MAGIC and IDENTIFY in this situation.
But two 1st level spells that don’t seem to be psionic in nature but are more useful than the above come to the forefront. On top of that, they are easily reskinned and, once you think of it, seem very mind power oriented. CATAPULT is an amazing attack spell that is quite handy in those lower levels. That and the fact that the visual of the spell looks a great deal like a telekinetic attack, makes it a great pick! My other pick for first level is FEATHER FALL. Not only is this more useful than levitate for the party, but it’s available at 1st level.
For 2nd level, I believe we must include DETECT THOUGHTS. It helps you get information you don’t usually have access to and you can chose how deep to go with it. It just seems too handy to not include. For the other spell of this level, it’s a bit trickier. The Warlock already has access to Hold Person, Suggestion and Enthrall. Calm Emotion seems a bit weak and I’m planning on giving access to Levitate as a part of their Warlock class features. There are two spells that come to mind: ENHANCE ABILITY and PHANTASMAL FORCE. Enhance ability is a Psychometabolism type spell in that it can be skinned as a change in the body via psionic abilities. But I really like Phantasmal Force. I mean, the first words of the spell say ‘You craft an illusion that takes root in the mind of a creature’. Now, THAT’S Psionics!
3rd level brings us up to spells like CLAIRVOYANCE, but most others that sound psi-like are on the warlock’s list already. I think it would be better to give this subclass a more offensive and defensive arsenal. BLINK is a good escape spell accessing the Ethereal Plane to displace yourself. A great combat spell in this level is SLOW; reskinning it where you change the enemies ‘perception‘ of time causing them to act and move slower.
The Warlock gets access to a better teleportation spell at 4th level in DIMENSION DOOR. I also find HALLUCENATORY TERRAIN to be real handy in confusing your enemy, but the Warlock get this spell too. COMPULSION might work here, but I like the good ole fashion CONFUSION where the text of the spell says you are assaulting and twisting you enemies mind. I like the PHANTASMAL KILLER here as you pry into what scares them and uses it against them.
Finally, 5th level, we have to offer the obvious choice this time in TELEKINESIS. You can grapple creatures or lift objects as heavy as 1000 pounds. And the perfect utility spell for the whole team is TELEPATHIC BOND. Making a mental connection with the team and being to communicate at any distance for an hour is an amazing trick!
EXTENDED SPELL LIST
Your Psionic Patron lets you choose from an expanded list of spells when you learn a warlock spell. The following spells are added to the warlock spell list for you
- 1st Level Catapult, Feather Fall
- 2nd Level Detect Thoughts, Phantasmal Force
- 3rd Level Blink, Slow
- 4th Level Confusion, Phantasmal Killer
- 5th Level Telekinesis, Telepathic Bond
As you can see, this is combat oriented and very aggressive. It also serves the team. It’s an all around win-win.
MOVE WITH YOUR MIND
Starting at 1st level, your patron has unlocked your mind; opening the ability to move things with your own mind. This acts as the LEVITATE spell and can be accessed a number of times equal to your Proficiency Bonus between Long Rests.
Starting at 6th level, you can strike the mind of a creature psionically, temporarily preventing it from masking its true thoughts and intent. The creature is forced to make an Intelligence saving throw; DC equals your spell attack modifier. On a failed save, the creature is unable to speak a deliberate lie, and all attempts to pry into the subject’s mind is done so with advantage for 10 minutes. You know if it succeeded or failed on its saving throw.
An affected creature is aware of the effect and can thus avoid answering questions to which it would normally respond with a lie. Such a creature can be evasive in its answers as long as the effect lasts. It cannot however avoid or lie if the target of a successful Detect Thoughts spell.
(This is, of course, some borrowing from Matt Mercer’s Cobalt Soul monk)
Starting at 10th level, your thoughts can’t be read by telepathy or other means unless you allow it. You also have resistance to psychic damage, and whenever a creature deals psychic damage to you, that creature takes the same amount of damage that you do.
(This is a direct borrowing from the Great Old One Patron. It fits.)
MY OWN PRISON
Starting at 14th level, you can mentally plunge a creature into an prison of its own making. As an action, choose a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you. It must make a Wisdom saving throw against your warlock spell save DC. On a failed save, it is restrained for 1 minute or until your concentration is broken (as if you are concentrating on a spell).
The creature makes another Wisdom save at the end of every turn they are imprisoned in this personal hell. As long as they continue to fail the save, they are trapped in a personal prison; surrounded by their life’s regrets, greatest fears and their worst enemies. Every turn trapped here, they take 3d10 psychic damage.
I created this with Sardior, god of the gem dragons in mind. Actually, this patron would include the five thanes represented all five gem dragons since they work together in order to bring their sovereign back to full strength. For more about this, read the article I wrote concerning their lore.
Auppenser, a deity of an ancient civilization of Jhaamdath ruled by Faerun’s one and only Psiocracy. Also called the TWELVE CITIES OF THE SWORD. Although his worshipers have been decimated, Auppenser still can grant power as a patron. Possibly, he needs a pawn to regain power.
Deep Duerra is the duergar goddess of psionics. Totally evil.
Not many besides these unless you want to use Ilsenine, god of the Mindflayers, or Pisaethces, the Blood Queen, Elder Evil creator of the Aboeliths. I personally consider these Great Old Ones, but I could see someone making a deal just to get psionic abilities.
Let me know what you think. We do not brew in a vacuum so what you have to say helps.