After another momentary break, along with some other Unearthed Arcana on massive battles and traps, many suspected the Mystic to have a new iteration. Especially after the surprise unveiling of the Artificer class (you can click here for our review of it), many had an inkling that the Mystic was going to reappear with a full 20 level progression, mystic orders, and full-fledged psionic disciplines. The biggest part of this release? Six, that’s right, six Mystic Orders with a few callbacks to older psionic archetypes including a reflavoring of an older archetype from the days of Oriental Adventures in 2nd Edition and 3.5.
The Mystic is essentially a new catch-all class to embody the mechanics of psionics, which honestly is fine from a design perspective and simplifies excessive complications with the idea. The mystic was introduced in Unearthed Arcana with several levels, bringing back the psi points mechanic from older editions while incorporating psionic disciplines similar in concept to the ones presented in 4th Edition. We never did a review for the earlier iterations of the Mystic class but if you want to check them out yourself, check out these links: Mystic v1 & Mystic v2.
Mind over Matter – Massive Overhaul
The Mystic has evolved over time from first incarnation and the 2nd incarnation, with the second being the good indicator of where the mechanics were heading. Taking almost every aspect of psionics from 3rd Edition and the few nuggets from 4th Edition, we have amassed a class embodying practically every archetype of psionic flavor and features across six Mystic Orders. Not only do we have more options than previously, but we also have more psionic talents and disciplines than the previous playtest material. Just simply looking over the amount of depth and mechanics added since the last iteration indicates a promising direction from the design team, additionally it also suggests that the previous feedback for the Mystic has been reaching the ears of the designers as well.
Five out of the six mystic orders have a full roster of psychic discipline, the Nomad current only has six disciplines (while the class allows for a maximum of eight disciplines). From the new disciplines offered, there should plenty of ideas circulating for additional disciplines or two. Overall the main concepts have not changed, all Mystics gain Psychic Talents which are small minor tricks that do not exert full mental focus (think of them as cantrips for spellcasters), and the disciplines each offer a variety of abilities once the Mystic has spent psi points to power them. Psychic Focus is still a powerful mechanic that grants a nice passive feature for the Mystic but still allows for them to utilize the powers from other disciplines.
Mystical Recovery and Telepathy provide longevity and utility for the Mystic, granting additional hit points after expending psi points by using a bonus action. Telepathy is a great ability to grant, the only other class that gains access to this feature are Great Old One Pact Warlocks. The only thing that seems to be prevalent within this class and its mechanics, the use of bonus actions which is exceedingly plentiful throughout the write-up of the class. Just like previous editions of the game, the added “bonus action” or swift action over time has proven to be features and abilities that truly empower a class. The more features that utilize this action, the more potent the class becomes over time.
Strength of Mind allows versatility for a well prepared Mystic, especially if they know what they may be facing ahead of time, allowing them to prepare their saving throws accordingly grants them improved survival against foes. The augment this feature, if the DM allows the Resilient feat, this will allow the Mystic to gain proficiency in a saving throw while boosting the relevant ability score by 1. It’s a perfect feat to grant allow the Mystic to gain access to Dexterity or Constitution saving throws (since many spells target these two saving throws besides Wisdom). Now you cannot use the Resilient feat to choose Wisdom saving throw proficiency since the Mystic starts out proficient with Wisdom saving throws, that’s more of a RAW (rules as written) than RAI (rules as intended) but personally I believe it’s definitely a RAI as well. In either case, by gaining more saving throw proficiencies, the Mystic gains more versatility with this feature.
Potent Psionics is essentially the Divine Strike and Potent Spellcasting features for the Cleric class but combined. Since the Mystic does not gain the Extra Attack feature, this extra damage keeps the Mystic consistent with melee combatants especially for the Order of the Soul Knife Mystics out there.
Consumptive Power is a great reminder of Overchanneling or the Wilder from the 3rd Edition’s psionic class, a class feature that involved burning up the health or body of the user to fuel the mental powers of the psionist. By reducing their current and maximum hit points, they can pay for discipline abilities using psi points of equivalent cost. Very useful and situation, but definitely powerful especially for Mystics under the Order of the Immortal though after a certain point, it might be better off staying down instead permanently dying (by reducing maximum hit points to 0). To complement the influx of power within the Mystic, the Psionic Mastery feature is possibly the most difficult to ascertain its truly purpose or mechanics without at least several glances or read-throughs. Essentially, the Mystic has 9 special psi points when they first gain this feature, it can only be used on one discipline to power all psi point powers under that particular discipline. Amazingly, the Mystic can concentrate on all the powers under this designated discipline that uses these special psi-points. Meaning that the Mystic cannot achieve this outside of the designated discipline upon using this feature. The pool of points increases later on to 11 special psi points and the usage of this feature increases up to 4 times by 17th level under this feature.
The final of resistance, Psionic Body, had myself drooling with the fact that should the Mystic die (for whatever reason), their bodies become incorporeal and reappears at the Mystic’s discretion within 1d3 days. Additionally, this feature grants the Mystic the treatment of finishing a long rest once resurrected. Having resistance to nonmagical and magical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage proves to be quite potent. Never really dying is also a boon, which hallmarks the Mystic’s ascension beyond the physical dimension and into the mental realm instead. Being immune to poison damage, disease, and the poisoned condition are just additional boons for the Mystic transcending beyond their physical limitations.
Master of Emotions – Order of the Avatar
The Wilder in previous Psionic supplements was the psionic equivalent of the sorcerer, basing their entire font of power through their emotions but taking physical strain the more they channeled into their emotions, becoming fatigued or worse over time. The Avatar Mystic gains two additional disciplines under the Order of the Avatar list, but can freely choose a discipline of their choice at 1st level. As they progress further, the Mystic can choose additional Order of the Avatar disciplines or adapt their playstyle by selecting other disciplines. This Order fits the sort of buffer role, giving passive boons similar to a Paladin’s auras. The Avatar of Battle grants a +2 bonus to initiative, which really helps with the party excel by acting faster in combat (doesn’t guarantee it, but sure helps). The Avatar of Healing is a great passive ability while the Mystic is conscious, as a Cleric with an active Beacon of Hope would be able to not only maximize their healing but also give even more healing with a Mystic nearby. Finally the Avatar of Speed grants allies the ability to truly close the gap, which helps for melee fighters immensely but equally useful for ranged and spellcasting characters to provide distance between themselves and the enemies.
Spectral Mind – Order of the Awakened
The Order of the Awakened plays very similar to the concept of a pure Telepath, eventually becoming a creature of mental energy and shedding their mortal form. The Awakened Mystic gains additional skills which are always a good thing since skill allocation is scarce. The Psionic Investigation feature is a great ability, especially in urban settings and even for intrigue based campaigns, especially since the mystic can gain very useful information. This often might foil a DM’s efforts to build a mystery in a session but often it provides more questions than answers if done well. Psychic Surge is a very potent feature that imposes disadvantage on a target’s saving throw against the Mystic’s discipline powers and resets once a Mystic regains their Psychic Focus, losing their focus often removes a boon gained from a particular discipline so it’s a good trade off initially. While Spectral Form is useful for traversing through environments that might prove otherwise difficult or hard to reach, it’s definitely a feature heavily useful in exploration aspects of a D&D game more so than combat. While this particular order as a good mix of utility inside and outside of combat, there are some good exploratory features as well.
Iron Body – Order of the Immortal
The Order of the Immortal is the tanking style of Mystic, many of the disciplines available to this order involve combat and getting to the fray, and the abilities are designed to enhance the Immortal Mystic’s ability to survival longer and better. Immortal Durability grants extra hit points and even has an AC of 10 plus their Dexterity and Constitution modifiers, which indicates that Constitution is another key ability score for the Mystic besides Intelligence. This might seem a bit MAD (multiple ability score dependent) for this particular Order, but just like the Monk with Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom as key ability scores, I feel that the bonus to AC should’ve came from Wisdom since the Mystic does gain a proficiency bonus for saving throws from it. Psionic Resilience is essentially the Aid spell with no concentration so long as the Mystic is at 1 hit points or more. Surge of Health is essentially Uncanny Dodge for Mystics, only the mystic loses their psychic focus for whatever discipline they were focused on as a reaction. If the Mystic does not regain their psychic focus, they cannot use this feature again until then, so there is some good balance for the Mystic and reinforces their need to be psionically focused almost all the time. Immortal Will is a fascinating feature, as the it grants the Mystic a short reprieve from falling unconscious, combined with the Consumptive Power feature from the main class, it can be a potent combination to stave the Immortal Mystic a couple of times before it becomes imperative that they defeat their foe quickly before their maximum hit points reach dangerous levels. I feel this order is possibly one of the better melee oriented orders, even doing somewhat better than the Soulknife Mystic, but more on that later.
Wandering Minds – Order of the Nomad
The Nomadic Mystic is sort of “goes with the flow” sort of playstyle, focusing only flexibility and adaptability. The Breadth of Knowledge feature is a very useful feature that grants proficiencies in anything from tools, skills or a mix of both. The Memory of One Thousand Steps feature is essentially a useful ability, especially if the Mystic wanted to dodge something like say a critical hit from an enemy attack. Granted this feature is a bit odd since it requires the Mystic to keep track of a square or location they were at previously in order to utilize this feature. The remaining features emphasize the namesake of this order, dealing with teleportation and movement. Superior Teleportation is great for the disciplines that allow the mystic to teleport, but the really useful feature comes down to Effortless Journey as it allows the Nomad Mystic to teleport in and out of combat easily. This is great for avoiding opportunity attacks and maneuvering through battlefields without imposing danger from hazards as well, granted the feature only works to locations the mystic can see so effects that cause lost of vision or makes things heavily obscured will definitely play into account when using this ability.
The Mind is a blade – Order of the Soul Knife
Creating and projecting a weapon out of one’s mind is pretty awesome to describe, the Soul Knife is a iconic class type from the early iterations of Psionics in the 3rd Edition ruleset. Now in 5th Edition, the tradition and legacy continues, though it does seem a bit toned down from previous incarnations (and rewrites because let’s face it, it was probably the weakest psionic class every made). This time around, the Soul Knife Mystic has medium armor proficiency and martial weapon proficiency as well, to allow them to craft deadlier soul knives. The weapons are always considered light and finesse weapons, great for Two-Weapon Fighting styles and Rogue multiclass options. Regardless of the shape of the soul knife made, it always deals 1d8 psychic damage, the most important distinction to note is that soul knives are made in both the mystic’s hands to avoid two-handed weaponry. But it does grant the Soul Knife some freedom to utilize their bonus action to make that offhand attack since the Soul Knife order is the only order with a no discipline list. Meaning that a Soul Knife only learns 8 by 20th-level unlike some of the other orders amassing at least 10 by the capstone. Hone the Blade is one of the few features across many Unearthed Arcana material that involves giving an actual bonus to attack and damage similar to an enhancement bonus on a magic weapon. By investing psi points, the Soul Knife can gain a powerful weapon, the expenditure is still limited by their psi limit but once they reach 9th-level, the Soul Knife can easily invest the 7 psi points to add a +4 bonus to attack and damage rolls with their soul knives. Along with Potent Psionics, the Soul Knife by 9th level can dish out an average of 3d8+8 damage, assuming all attacks hit and not including Dexterity/Strength mods, per turn. Consumptive Knife allows a Soul Knife to regain psi points with every creature they slay, which is great when in a party of casters that deal area of effect damage and the Soul Knife comes in to finish off the survivors. Phantom Knife is an interesting ability as it essentially says: “make this attack hit for sure” by using an action to land one attack. It’s one of those features that almost gets better with extra damage like say from Sneak Attack or something along those lines. Because honestly, with Potent Psionics at 14th-level, it comes down to being 3d8+4 damage being struck against a low AC threshold. So unless the Soul Knife really needs an attack to hit, there is a loss of damage on the other hand. Overall, the Soul Knife incarnation is still quite potent since the order still has access to disciplines, just not order specific ones so there are some advantages to it.
Wielder of Elements – Order of the Wu Jen
The Wu Jen was a class introduced in the Oriental Adventures supplement from 2nd and 3rd Edition, a caster that wielded the elemental magic through elaborate restrictions and taboos. Now we removed the taboos but ultimately the Wu Jen still has many elemental abilities and exerts a mastery that transcends spells and incantations, fitting more of the older flavor and feel of the archetype. This particular order is definitely along the veins of still emulating a spellcaster and the flavor very well, Hermit’s Study offers more skill proficiencies which is always a welcomed sight. Bypassing elemental resistances through Elemental Attunement is great when using disciplines that deal elemental damage both in early levels and much higher tiers of combat where resistances are quite prevalent. To continue the spellcaster themed order, Arcane Dabbler essentially allows a Wu Jen Mystic to learn three wizard spells from 1st through 3rd level, using psi points to generate the spell level slot to cast them, but only up to 5th level since it costs 7 psi points. Casting a fireball spell at 5th level for 7 psi points is nothing snuff at, granted there disciplines that offer a wide variety of utility but consider that the detonation ability under the Mastery of Fire discipline costs only 5 psi points and deals 7d10 fire damage and can potentially knock creatures prone. More utility and potentially more damage as the average damage from the detonation ability is 38.5 versus fireball’s 28 damage, meaning that the Wu Jen spends less for more. Therefore it would make more sense to use this feature for utility spells that the Wu Jen would not be accessible through other disciplines or features. Elemental Mastery is a very worthwhile capstone, especially if the Wu Jen Mystic acquires all the elemental mastery disciplines from their order, most of the them grant elemental resistances and while being under their Psychic Focus, a Wu Jen can gain immunity based on their damage resistance as a reaction. Now my only concern is that it doesn’t explicitly state or discriminate about damage resistance from a source, for example, if a Wu Jen was granted psychic immunity from an item and based on RAW, the feature would allow the Wu Jen to gain immunity as a reaction. This feature needs to be cleared up some more as I would assume the RAI is closer to resistances granted by disciplines instead of just some vague nimbus.
The Mystic’s Unearthed Arcana material is the largest playest to date, standing as a towering 28 pages, there are a plethora of areas to explore and experiment. Unfortunately, due to the vast size and scale, there will need to be some heavy thoughts on both the mechanics and the potential builds for the Mystic with its very agnostic system of discipline acquisition. The agnostic acquisition of disciplines across the 20 levels of the class seem a bit more powerful than perceived. Granted it truly gives the Mystic a much more rounded application and growth than most other classes, even classes like the Sorcerer and Bard who have the ability to swap spells known for other spells, disciplines are much more varied than spells are. The many Mystic Orders were distinct from each other, following their flavors while providing completely different playstyles across the board. I can easily see a Nomad Mystic with a Mastery of Wood and Earth along with Master of Fire disciplines but still be tied to disciplines like Nomadic Step and Nomadic Arrow. Psionics in older editions were hallmarked with their flexibility and adaptability that traditional spellcasting could not garner, adding a mix of everything from all concepts, Wizards of the Coast managed to solidify the psionic experience into a single class while still maintaining the individuality of previous psionic archetypes. I truly look forward to the continuation of these playtest materials, especially if the Mystic appears in a future Player’s Handbook 2 or Eberron Campaign Setting supplement. Time will only tell where all these playtest materials will lead, but I’m confident that this class simply needs some clarifications and expanded explanations here and there.
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