What Is a Power
A psionic power is an expression of psychic energy, such as telekinesis or telepathy. Individual practitioners shape this force through manifesting these energies. In some ways, it is like the ki of a monk summoning power through discipline and will, and in other ways it is like casting a spell, sculpting esoteric energies into a desired effect.
Unlike spells, powers are more general in their capability, often possessing a range of effects. These alternate effects may require greater resource costs to manifest, and some options may be beyond the control of your class and level.
Psionic powers don’t have levels like spells, as psionics don’t use slots like spells do. Power level is a concept that is applied in dispel and counter mechanics, with psionic powers having a power level equal to one half the power points spent to augment the power (rounded up). Power level can’t exceed 9th level.
Powers that aren’t augmented are equivalent to cantrips and treated as 0-level powers for purposes of dispelling or countering them.
Before a manifester can use a power he or she must know it. All psionic classes have a limited number of powers they can call. How many and which powers you can know is determined by your class.
Manifesting in Armor
Like spellcasting, you must be proficient with the armor you are wearing to manifesting a power. You are otherwise too distracted and physically hampered by your armor for power manifesting.
Powers can be manifested at will at the base strength. Augmented powers require the expenditure of power points, which limits the ability of psychic characters to manifest stronger power expressions. Controlling psionic powers is emotionally and mentally taxing, and the wear and tear of such takes its toll on the body. Thus, each manifesting class includes a table on how many power points at each level a character can use. For example, the 7th-level savant Fiora has 16 power points to spend on augmenting her powers. Furthermore, each class has a limit on how many power points can be used to augment a single power. As a 7th-level savant, Fiora can expend up to 7 power points on a single power expression.
Finishing a short or long rest restores all expended power points.
Manifesting a Power
When a character manifests any power, the same basic rules are followed, regardless of the character’s class and power’s effects.
Each power’s description begins with a block of information, including the power’s name, psionic discipline, manifesting time, range, maintenance type and limit, and how it is detected when manifest.
Most powers require a single action to manifest. However, some powers can be used with a bonus action or a reaction.
A power manifest with a bonus action is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to manifest or activate the power, provided that you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn. You can both manifest a power with a bonus action and a standard action on the same turn, but can only augment one of them with power points.
Casting a Spell and a Power in the Same Turn. Manifesting a power is equivalent to casting a spell of 1st level or greater. When you manifest a power using a bonus action, you may only use your action to cast a cantrip during that turn.
Ready a Power
You can ready a power in the same way you can ready a spell. You must spend your power points on the augmentations you want when you take the Ready action. The power must have a manifesting time of 1 action, and holding the power requires concentration. If your concentration is broken, the power fails without taking effect.
Some powers can be manifest as reactions, and others enable reactions while the power is maintained. Such powers only require a slight thought or even just reflex to activate. If the power can be manifest as a reaction, the power description tells you exactly when you may do so.
The target of a power must be within the power’s range. Some powers target individuals. Other powers target a point in space where the effects manifest.
Most powers have ranges expressed in feet. Some powers only affect a creature (including you) or object you touch. Other powers manifest only on you or centered on you.
Powers that create cones or lines of effect that originate from you also have a range of self, indicating that the origin point of the power’s effect must be you.
Maintained powers don’t persist when they exceed their range from you, and their effects end immediately once you exit their range, even if you do so while moving during your turn. For instance, Fiora is maintaining a suspension power at maximum range of 60 feet. She is positioned along a barrier and in order to get around it, must first move back 5 feet, out of range of her power. At this moment, the power ends, and Fiora will have to manifest a new power and expend an appropriate number of power points to replace the effect.
Most psionic powers by default are instantaneous effects at the time of manifestation. Any power that can be maintained will remain in effect until the end of the turn once you stop maintaining it, including if you choose not to maintain the power at all. Certain powers will remain in effect until the start of your next turn. These exceptions are detailed in the power description.
When you manifest a power with a maintenance time, you can opt to maintain the power by concentrating on it. Only one power can be maintained at a time, unless allowed by a class feature. A character can’t concentrate on both a power and spell at the same time, unless a class feature allows it.
If you are already maintaining a power and manifest a new power that has a maintenance time, you can opt to stop maintaining the old power and instead maintain the new power. During your turn, you can choose to end a power you are maintaining at will.
Events and effects that would break spell concentration will also break power maintenance.
Some powers can’t be maintained.
Activation and Passive Effects
Some maintained powers don’t have passive effects, but instead allow you to use an action to repeat the effect when you manifested the power or allow you to make an action using a different expression of the power. In this case, the psychic energies remain for you to tap without expending additional power points.
Whenever a psionic power is maintained through concentration, the manifester becomes psionic focused, a mental state in which the character’s ki flows in harmony with ambient psychic energies.
Maintaining psychic abilities, such as psionic powers, for long durations causes extreme mental stress for the manifester. Powers list how long they can be maintained without risk. When you start your turn while maintaining a power or ability beyond its maintenance, you gain the psychic strained condition. You can stop maintaining the effect at the start of your turn to avoid taking damage from the psychic strained condition.
Psionics require no incantation, but aren’t completely undetectable. Various powers may give some indication that they are in use, allowing countering and dispels.
The power gives off a psychic sensation that is undetectable to nonpsionic creatures. Each creature with psychic abilities can perceive if a psionic power is being manifest if it can see the manifester and is within 60 feet. Creatures without psychic ability can’t feel the change in energies.
The power requires the manifester to make some kind of gesture. This gesture can be motioning an arm to direct psionic energy or merely touching one’s head. A creature with clear line of sight to the manifester is aware of the power manifestation.
The power gives off a clear visual effect. All or part of the manifester might glow, or the power may have a visible beam emanating from the manifester. Some powers have overt visual effects, such as telekinetic powers that grab objects or create energy effects.
A typical power requires you to pick one or more targets to be affected by the power’s expression. A power’s description tells you whether the power targets creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect.
Unless the power has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it was targeted by a psionic power at all. An effect like being slammed or lifted by an unseen force is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature’s mind typically goes unnoticed, unless the power says otherwise.
A Clear Path to the Target
Most powers require line of sight and a direct path to the target. Generally, full cover is enough to protect a target, but some powers can affect targets without line of effect. See the power’s description for such exceptions.
If a power targets a creature of your choice, you can choose yourself, unless the creature must be hostile or specifically a creature other than you. If you are in the area of effect of a power you manifest, you can target yourself.
Areas of Effect
Many powers can be used to cover an area of effect when augmented to do so.
A power’s description specifies its area of effect, which typically has one of five different shapes: cone, cube, cylinder, line, or sphere. Every area of effect has a point of origin, a location from which the power’s energy erupts. The rules for each shape specify how you position its point of origin (see chapter 10 of the Player’s Handbook for details). Typically, a point of origin is a point in space, but some powers have an area whose origin is a creature or object.
A power’s effect expands in straight lines from the point of origin. If no unblocked straight line extends from the point of origin to a location within the area of effect, that location isn’t included in the power’s area. To block one of these imaginary lines, an obstruction must provide total cover, as explained in chapter 9 of the Player’s Handbook.
Many powers specify that a target can make a saving throw to avoid some or all of a power’s effects. The power specifies the ability that the target uses for the save and what happens on a success or failure.
The DC to resist one of your powers equals 8 + your manifesting ability modifier + your proficiency bonus + any special modifiers.
When a power has multiple effects that require a saving throw at the same time, such as the start or end of a turn, the target only makes one saving throw and applies the result to each of the power’s effects.
Some powers require the manifester to make an attack roll to determine whether the power hits the intended target. Your attack bonus with a power attack equals your manifesting ability modifier + your proficiency bonus.
Many powers that require attack rolls involve ranged attacks. Generally, you are at a disadvantage on a ranged attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature that can see you and that isn’t incapacitation (see chapter 9 of the Player’s Handbook). However, several psychic classes have class features that bypass this disadvantage.
Combining Psionic Effects
The effects of different power manifestations add together while their maintenances overlap. The effects of the same power manifestation manifested multiple times don’t combine, however. Instead, the most potent effect – such as the highest bonus – from those manifestations applies while their maintenances overlap.
For example, if two savants manifest inertial barrier covering the same area, only one effect is applied, subjects within the effect areas are not doubly slowed.
Combining with Magical Effects
In some cases, psionic power may duplicate magical effects. The Dungeon Master will decide which of these similar effects will stack or not.
Spells and powers may also effectively compete against one another. For instance, suspension is similar to levitate and even reverse gravity. In these cases, you should use the effective spell level to determine which the spell cast or power manifested take priority. The effective spell level for spells is equal to the spell slot used to cast the spell. For psionic powers, this is equal to the half the power points spent on the power (rounded up, to a maximum of 9th level). In the case that the effective spell level is equal, then the most recent effect takes priority.
Some psychokinetic powers are energy powers. If you possess a feature that allows you to manifest an energy type, you can substitute that energy type for the damage type of such powers.
You can spend power points to augment your powers. How you can augment your powers is displayed with a numeric cost. In some cases, you can take the same augmentation multiple times. If there is a limit, it is indicated in the power description. Some augmentations are exclusive with other augmentations, and you can only choose one option. These are defined within the power description.
Powers can have augmentations that cost no power points, but are automatically applied when you reach certain character levels or have spent a certain number of power points on other augmentations for the power. These are covered in the individual power descriptions.
Some augmentations can also be further enhanced, having an additional power point cost on top of the augmentation’s base power point cost. In some cases augmentations can have multiple empowered options and can generally take each if the power point cost is met. The power description will detail these options.
You can never spend more power points on a power than your class allows.
Manifesting powers that cost 11 or more power points is taxing. After manifesting a power with 11 or more power points, you can’t manifest another power using 11 or more power points until you finish a short or long rest. Starting at 17th level, you can manifest up to two powers using 11 or more power points between rests.
The DM may rule that a psychic character can push itself beyond its limit and manifest powers costing 11 or more power points more often. Once it does so, the character gains the psychic strained condition.