The Dark Sun Mystic

What have D&D designers said about the Mystic?

In his recent Reddit AMA, Dungeons and Dragon’s Creative Director Mike Mearls indicated (4x) that the Mystic needs a conceptual rebuild:

“…mystic depends on a deeper revision to give it a clearer identity, driven by settings like Dark Sun and what it would need.”

“Moving the mystic back a bit – it lacks a clear conceptual boundary. The design right now kind of does everything. We’re looking at it in terms of settings. What does a psionic-user in Dark Sun do, etc.”

“Polling wise, both classes scored well. Both need some work, but they are definitely on a track to completion. We’re just taking our time to get it right.”

“Mystic needs some new concepting to give it a clearer focus.”

In the November 27, 2017 Dragon Talk podcast, Dungeons & Dragons Lead Rules Designer Jeremy E. Crawford expressed similar sentiments:

“Mystic…had high satisfaction. But, introducing a new class to the game is way more labor intensive–if we’re going to get it right–than introducing a subclass for an already existing class.”

“The Mystic in particular introduces a whole new magic system, that right now in it’s current form is frankly kind of bonka-zonks broken. Basically, this is what it came down to: before I let the Mystic into the game, it needs a lot more playtesting and a lot more development.”

“We also have some new angles we want to try with it. And then there’s the question of ‘when is the right time to introduce either of these new classes?’ Which is, they have their archetypes.”

What can be expected from a Mystic revision?

The current Unearthed Arcana Mystic is in its third iteration. Mearls’ and Crawford’s commentary indicates a strong desire to refine the scope of the Mystic’s abilities into a more cohesive concept. These themes will be driven by Dark Sun content, a campaign setting released for 2nd Edition AD&D (2e) with psionics as a core element of its world.

Naturally, it makes sense to take a dive inside Athas:

Dark Sun did a lot for the legacy of psionics by making it integral to the setting and expanding its rules and powers. If it’s your first time seeing Dark Sun, don’t you dare close your eyes.

A Whole New Magic System?

Aladdin Dark Sun

Is there “a whole new magic system” on the way? The latest Mystic is already a 28-page PDF. Compare this with the Cleric, who gets 14 pages of treatment between the Player’s Handbook, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide (not including spells).

Suggestions the Mystic requires a “deeper revision” (Mearls), “new concepting” (Mearls), “more development” (Crawford), and “new angles” (Crawford) suggests that the class could be much more robust by the time it hits print.

Conversely, “clearer identity” (Mearls), “conceptual boundary” (Mearls), “clearer focus” (Mearls), “does everything” (Mearls), and “kind of bonka-zonks broken” (Crawford) suggest that the class features may be more limited in print. However, that’s the case for most playtest material. It’s better to throw out a ton of ideas and skim the best off the top, than to focus intently on forcing a few concepts that won’t work.

Releasing the Mystic in a Psionics Handbook achieves design team goals:

  • It’s tidy. By putting the class with the system, the Psionics Handbook can function as a graft on to the base game without expanding the necessary rulebooks for new players to enjoy the game. You don’t want a bunch of psionic classes or items in one book that requires a different book to operate.
  • If they release the Mystic class in the book, they can limit interactions with existing and future products in Adventurer’s League with the “Player’s Handbook +1″ Rule. This allows the developers to focus playtesting on interactions with the Player’s Handbook, which they are already confident is a very stable product.

Psionic Archetypes

Seer (Clairsentience)

A Seer has heightened powers of observation. They can use clarivoyant powers to sense immediate events, or peer into the far future or past. Their powers also enable them to scry on others, or to detect when they are being sensed.  By attuning to their environment, they perceive everything in their immediate vicinity, including through the astral and ethereal planes.

Unearthed Arcana Treatment. Seer is represented in the Order of the Awakened subclass and in two of its disciplines. Psionic Investigation is a clear Seer ability, but the rest of the subclass progression does not necessarily align with Seer. The Awakened disciplines Aura Sight and Precognition are Seer abilities. The Nomad discipline Third Eye also strikes me as a Seer ability, especially packaged with truesight. It’s also thematically redundant with Nomad Mind, so it wouldn’t hurt to move the Third Eye discipline to a Seer subclass. Perhaps these abilities are spread around because the designers felt that Seer did not have enough tricks to stand alone. Maybe themes are mixed-and-matched for game balance. I can’t profess to know.

Kineticist (Psychokinesis)

This is the damage dealer. Force damage, detonation, disintegration, controlling elements, and most of the fun stuff is built into Kineticist. This archetype also gets fun tricks like levitation, gravity manipulation, and creating force walls. Their material manipulation can also be very useful–they can magnetize metals, fuse materials, or slow down molecules to cause freezing or stop fires.

Unearthed Arcana Treatment. Whoa…a little overboard. Order of the Wu Jen gets disciplines for Air, Fire, Force, Ice, Light and Darkness, Weather (Wind, Thunder, Lightning), Wood and Earth. This is the type of thing that makes them just feel like an evoker. Personally, I like kinetics to deal force damage (see Disintegrate). With a good damage spell in their pocket, the other Kineticist themes interact with the pillars of the game better than just giving them the full evoker rainbow (and arcane spells to go with it).

Egoist (Psychometabolism)

The Egoist can alter their appearance, transform, regenerate, go into stasis, metabolize temporary hit points, and use a host of other abilities based on manipulating their metabolism and body. They can also manipulate the nervous system of creatures they touch, causing them pain, putting them to sleep, or even causing death.

Unearthed Arcana Treatment. Oath of the Immortal…

Apache Chief

Nomad (Psychoportation)

Expedited and extraplanar travel is the staple of the Nomad. The abilities range from basic (Blink, Dimension Door) to advanced (Gate, Teleport). Nomads also use these abilities to summon creatures from other planes to assist them in battle.

Unearthed Arcana Treatment. Order of the Nomad subclass is the obvious analog. The subclass is completely built around teleportation. The Nomad discipline Nomad Step is very robust and its abilities fit the archetype perfectly. Nomadic Mind could use a little polish, but it’s mostly on message (could be a Seer ability). Nomadic Chameleon and Nomadic Arrow give this subclass a Ranger-like vibe, which raises concerns about stepping on the toes of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything‘s Horizon Walker Ranger. I’d rather see this go the way of a Beastmaster Ranger, but using elemental creatures or extraplanar summons to fill a different niche.

Telepath (Telepathy)

Telepathy can be used to read, deliver messages, and even implant thoughts in the minds of others. This skill can be used to control creatures’ actions, behavior, and emotions. Telepaths can also stun targets by focusing their mental energy, while dealing psychic damage with the classic Ego Whip. A telepath can even appear invisible by causing a viewer to look past them, or even make their thoughts invisible.

Unearthed Arcana Treatment. Telepath is well represented in the Order of the Awakened discipline. If the Telepathic Contact discipline was not a dead giveaway, Psychic Inquisition, Psychic Phantoms, Psychic Disruption, and Psychic Assault (incl. Ego Whip) are all very strongly in line with what you would expect a telepath to do. However, the subclass build for Awakened doesn’t match the Telepath: Psionic Investigation is a Seer ability, Spectral Form is an Egoist ability.  There’s a lot of Telepathy-themed disciplines to work with (especially dipping into Avatar). The Telepath build could be refined by moving some of the numerous discipline abilities into the base Awakened subclass.

Unlikely Additions

There’s some question as to whether we’ll see a Metapsionics class. It was not a primary discipline in 2nd Edition, and its powers were folded into item creation in 3rd Edition.

Shapers–psions who use Metacreativity to conjure objects and creatures–were introduced in 3e, but may not be in consideration if the designers are looking to Dark Sun for inspiration. Without an appearance of conjuring or summoning powers in the Unearthed Arcana, the Shaper will likely remain absent.

Psionic Abilities

For inspiration, here’s the index of psionic abilities from The Will and the Way:

Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 10.02.24 PM

Stay tuned for updates.

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