Creating Your Own Content

These rules are intended to serve as a framework. As such, you can use the systems provided to make your own content. The sections that follow are aimed to facilitate your efforts.

If you are sharing your creation using this system, be sure to link to the system so your readers have everything they will need to use your creation. If you are only using segments of this document, you can copy it verbatim, but please provide the courtesy of credit.

Make sure to also review the sections on creating new material in the DMG. I won’t retread what is already written.

Creating a Subclass

Adding a psychic themed subclass requires that you give features with the right flavor. You need to decide whether your subclass manifests powers like a a savant or transcendent or whether it has psychic themed features like the Path of the Ghost barbarian or Dervish fighter. In any case, you need to pick a manifesting ability for psychic class features. Typically this will be Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma depending on how the class expresses its powers.

When creating a manifesting subclass, you’ll need to give it an available pool of powers or a set list depending on your concept. Next you need to give it power points to augment these powers. The simplest method is to make a subclass with one third manifestation ability, in the same way the eldritch knight has spellcasting. There are two examples of such subclasses in this document for monk and rogue. If your subclass is instead intended to only have a limited set of powers (such as only 2 or 3 total powers) you might use an alternate power point progression system or restrict what they can do per rest.

If your subclass is of a magic using class, you can leverage the same spell slot to power point system used by the Oath of the Ardent paladin and Cerebromancer wizard. You may need to further restrict how many power points your subclass can spend on a single power to better balance it among its class peers.

Always use existing subclass features as a guide for balancing features you add. You need to provide content for each level that a class gains a subclass feature. Also, be careful of frontloading powerful abilities as that can lead to players dipping into a subclass for potential abuse.

Creating a Class

I recommend against creating a new class, but if you are determined, to embark cautiously as a class is much harder to balance and adjust. Much like with a subclass, creating a psychic themed class requires you to decide whether it manifests powers or whether it has psionic-like features.

If your class is a manifester, it needs a manifesting ability which should be Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma. It also needs to have a number of known powers and a list of possible powers to choose from as well as power points to manifest its powers. If your class is a full manifester, use the savant or channeler as a starting point. If it’s a half manifester, use the transcendent to get you started. You should never give a class more power points than a savant or channeler have due to the nature of how powers can be augmented. Manifesting high level powers should quickly exhaust a manifester’s power point reserve.

Next you’ll need to give it features. Start by allotting the Ability Score Increase feature. For most classes this should be at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level. Look to fighter and rogue if you want your class to have more. For casters (and thus manifesters), often levels where a new spell level is gained is left empty. This is not always practical, but is a good guideline. Psionics use ( spell level * 2 ) – 1 to calculate equivalent power point cost.

You also need to place subclass choice (often at 3rd level) and create at least two options. Apportion around four levels in your class (including the level a subclass is selected) for subclass features. If your subclass changes the manifesting ability, it should be selected on the same level that powers are selected so as to not change how the character plays midgame. See savant and channeler.

Creating a Race or Subrace

This is much like creating nonpsychic races and subclasses, only that you need to provide some psychic or spiritual themed trait. The easiest way is to allow your race to manifest a power once per long rest. You can also give a race a power point reserve, but this pool should be small and not scale substantially, or at all, with level. No more than 3 power points should be given from a racial trait (the equivalent of a 2nd-level spell).

Creating a Power

Every power should have an at will, cantrip level effect as well as several means to spend power points to augment that power.

    A power takes a certain amount of time to manifest, usually one Action. If your power requires a Reaction, you need to state what events are required to permit that reaction. If you allow a power to be augmented to allow it to be manifest as a Reaction, you also need to state under which conditions this is allowed.

    Your power must have a range. If it originates from the manifester, the range is Self. A power generally can’t persist outside its range.

    Also, each power is either instantaneous (Maintenance: None) or has a Maintenance time. Maintenance requires concentration, and once the period of time indicated is exceeded, the manifester suffers psychic strain. Never make a power with a duration that doesn’t require concentration; psionic powers are not designed and balanced to be fire and forget. In some cases, powers can linger, but such times are very short (a few rounds) or require substantial setup.

    For offensive powers, if it deals damage as a cantrip, it should have a 0 cost augmentation that improves its damage with each tier of play or somehow improves it, such as area, maintenance, or lingering effect. Look at how cantrips and existing powers scale for 0 power points for reference.

    An augmentation should either change the scale of a power (range, number of targets, area of effect, damage, etc.) or change the scope of the power such as changing or adding to the effects. Scope should remain thematic with the rest of the power and its other augmentations.

    Typically, augmentations that change scale cost 1 or 2 power points per increase and can be taken more than once. Area of effect and number of targets should sometimes cost more points depending on what the power does. Use existing powers as a guideline. Also consider placing a cap based on how you envision the power’s scale maxing out. Caps are also useful to encourage players to combine augmentations.

    Scope changes are recommended to always have a cost that is a multiple of 2 if the power has a base augmentation cost of 1 or 1 + a multiple of 2 and should roughly coincide with spell level (3 power points for a 2nd-level spell equivalent, 5 power points for a 3rd-level spell equivalent, etc.). Your power may just have effects at benchmarks roughly equivalent to certain spell levels. Dimensional disassociation is an example of such a power.

    Sometimes an augmentation should be able to be empowered. For instance, if you have an augmentation that adds a damaging effect, you should probably include an empowerment that increases that damage. This allows you to frontload a scaling component to establish a minimum level to manifest it while providing decent scaling for that effect with lower costs.

    There may be cases where an empowerment cost 0 power points and instead looks at the total number of power points spent on the power. You do this when you need your augmentation to scale but the power is bloated. Try to avoid this as it may mean you put too much breadth in the power, but there are cases where it’s necessary.

    When balancing your power, look at existing powers and spells. Buff and debuff powers should be generally equivalent to spells, but you may opt for them to cost more power points than the equivalent would normally cost to preserve the spell’s niche. When balancing damage, a power that can’t be maintained should follow the guidelines in the DMG for spells. For maintained powers, the power should be less damage upfront, but over time will exceed a similar level spell. A power should deal less damage than a spell in its first two turns. In the third turn it should be approximately equal to a spell of the same level of power, overtaking a spell starting with the fourth round. Psionics are designed to be efficient when allowed to be maintained, and inefficient at burst effectiveness. This philosophy is in place because maintained powers always require concentration and can be interrupted and to create a specific flavor for powers that matches the archetypal fantasy of psychic powers.