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Pretend this psionic fight is an animated *.gif; it would look just the same

The Psion is a Dungeons & Dragons character class that uses psionics. That's really all there is to it, which you can already tell is a remark on just what kind of relationship D&D has with psychic powers in PC hands.



In 1st edition, psions were normal characters that rolled 99-100 on d100 during chargen, and gained extra spellcasting that didn't require spellbooks nor devotion to a faith. They had their own psionic-only battles that were invisible to non-psionics, and required their own combat matrix (complete with only one always optimal attack and one always optimal defense) on the DM's screen so you could play rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock with the five attacks and five defenses. Only one attack could actually affect non-psionics, and it was less effective than casing Feeblemind or just punching someone in the jaw. Everyone else would just stand around and watch 10 rounds of an invisible, silent fight between people standing perfectly still for each round of actual combat. Whoop-de-doo.

Can you tell Gygax didn't even want to include it yet?

In 2nd edition, the Complete Book of Psionics introduced the Psionicist class, which was dedicated to having psychic powers. It was the precursor to the Psion in every way that really matters, but it still relied on the same godawful psychic combat mechanics as 1e. At least in terms of how the engine worked. While clunky and cumbersome to navigate, with the right amount of thought it was possible to use it effectively, you just had to be really REALLY minmaxy about it. A Psion was fully capable of a lot of the other main casting classes abilities like; teleportation, summoning extra-planar creatures, banishing people to pocket dimensions etc. The only thing a Psionicist really couldn't do with their powers, ironically enough, was large amounts of damage. All your basic attack powers did only 1 die of damage regardless of how much you augmented them. Buuut this was a moot point due to one power you could easily obtain early on; Disintegrate. Yep, a save-or-die power in 2nd edition. You could obtain this at level 3 if you played your cards right. Sure it would cost most if not all of your points to use it, but that was a small price to pay for an instadeath ability at a time when nobody had saves worth a damn.

Third editionEdit

Yeah we know why you really want to play a Soulknife

D&D 3.0 had horrific mechanics: the ultimate M.A.D., where you needed a high stat for every subcategory of psionics to have a decent power, some weird bullshit about psychic duels and other crap that only served to make the system more confusing. There was one supplements for 3.0 psionics, the Psionics handbook, which included jack-all for new psionic classes and races, and had to be replaced by a much better book in 3.5e, the Expanded Psionics Handbook.

In 3.5e, psionics were simpler: Psions were accountant spellcasters who kept track of a mana pool. Psionic powers didn't level up (well, most of them), instead the psion would spend mana ("power points") to increase a power's effect. Other players raged about this being h4x because a psion could turn themselves into glass cannons and screw a BBEG if they really wanted to. Most of the complaints about psionics came from people who didn't actually read the rules entirely (Few noticed the the rule saying you can only spend your manifester level in PP at once stopping you from dumping your entire pool into something) or from pro spellcasters, who want to be the only ones with an "I win" button.

3.5e psionics had one godlike main class: the Psion, or psychic wizard (though the limited number of known powers make it more like a sorcerer). Psychic Warrior was a hybrid of psion and fighter, created only because fucktons of people in 3.0 were multiclassing psion with fighter for reasons that nobody remembers, but was a pretty decent single class Gish that made good use of how psionics were friendly with getting spells from other lists. The wilder was basically just a psion that relied on charisma rather than intelligence, making it the sorcerer to the psion's wizard while also being a bit of barbarian with the ability to get pissed for more power. Finally, there was the Protoss Zealot Soulknife, originally a prestige class that allowed people to roleplay as a Protoss Zealot from Starcraft. Nobody played them because they sucked ass. The Expanded Psionics Handbook tried to fix that by bumping them down to a main class and giving players a new race, the Protoss Xeph, which was created for the sole purpose of looking like a Protoss and having the Zealot Soulknife as its favored class. Unfortunately, the Protoss Xeph were designed with a -2 to strength, which just happened to be the god Stat for Zealots soulknives, so that idea failed.

Fourth EditionEdit

The 4e Psion was the Psionic Controller class, making it analoguous to the Wizard or Invoker. By the time 4e was cancelled, it could be divided into three subclasses; one focusing on telepathy to control peoples' minds, the second focusing on telekinesis to fling people around the battlefield like toys, and the third on creating psionic constructs to do the dirty work for them.

In contrast to the rest of the AEDU System, Psions (as well as Ardents and Battleminds) lacked any class-native Encounter attack powers. Instead, they gained a third At-Will power as they leveled up (with later levels giving more At-Wills to trade off with like how a normal class would trade off Encounter attacks) and had a smaller pool of power points to augment their at-wills. The alarm of the small pool of points was offset by the fact that they refill every short rest, which made their augmented at-wills effectively encounters.

Fifth EditionEdit

The Psion has yet to turn up officially in 5th edition, although the newcomer Unearthed Arcana class the Mystic has basically taken not only its place, but the role of every single psionic class of editions past. A surprisingly official-looking homebrew expasion of that UA has been made by fans, which comes with additions such as new "magic" items and new psionic monsters. All in all you're actually better off going with this than the actual UA:

Mike Mearls personally would rather just use a new Arcane Tradition for the Wizard rather than bring back the psion in its own right. The resultant School of Psionics? Well, it looks like this:

ESP: At 2nd level, you gain the ability to contact other creatures' minds. You can cast detect thoughts using this ability. When you cast that spell, whether with this ability or from some other ability, it has the following modifications:

  • The spell does not require concentration.
  • The benefits that require you to use an action instead require the use of a bonus action.
  • If you use the option to probe deeper and the target fails its Wisdom saving throw, it is vulnerable to psychic damage you inflict until the end of your next turn.

Once you cast detect thoughts using this ability, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Telepath: Starting at 2nd level, you gain telepathy with a range of 30 feet. Additionally, when you select spells, you can choose spells from the psionic spell list, even if they do not appear on your class list.

Telekinetic Mind: Starting at 6th level, you gain the ability to transform your thoughts into tangible force. You can cast telekinesis using this ability. When you cast that spell, whether with this ability or from some other ability, it has the following modifications:

  • The spell does not require concentration.
  • The benefits that require you to use an action instead require the use of a bonus action.
  • The spell's duration is 1 minute, and you cannot choose a new target after selecting your initial one. This restriction no longer applies once you reach 9th level.

Once you cast telekinesis using this ability, you can't use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Superior ESP: At 10th level, your proficiency with the detect thoughts spell grows. You gain the following additional benefits when you cast the spell:

  • The spell now targets a number of creatures equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum 1).
  • If you use the option to probe deeper and the target fails its Wisdom saving throw, you can choose to charm it instead of making it vulnerable to psychic damage. It makes another Wisdom saving throw at the end of its turn, ending this effect with a successful save or if it takes damage from you or your allies.

Improved Telekinesis: At 14th level, you master the full potential of your mind to project physical force into the world. When you cast telekinesis and each time you select a new target for the spell, you can instead choose a number of targets up to your Intelligence bonus (minimum 1).


The Pathfinder third party supplement Ultimate Psionics contains the Psion class, which works more or less the same as it does in 3.5e. Of the official PF psychic classes, the Psychic probably closest fits the general archetype of Psion as the "undiluted psionic master" class.

Mechanically, the Psychic functions akin to the Sorcerer, with most of its power stemming from the various Disciplines (sources of psionic energy) that it chooses.

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition Classes
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