Psionicists, a breakdown

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Wendell
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Psionicists, a breakdown

Post by Wendell » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:57 pm

I know psionicists are far from the top of any sort of list of classes being fixed. This post isn't meant to come across as pushy/complainy in any way, it is merely a constructive tool for those who may be looking at this class as it stands, and wondering if they should roll one. I've had a handful of psionicist heroes, and a lot of this post were thoughts that I wrote down a half dozen years ago, and recently unearthed.

Strengths/Weaknesses:
A psionicist is a lot like a barbarian mixed with an old-school spirit scholar. They have incredible melee output, great maladictions, and multiple approaches to PvP play. The largest drawback on a psionicist is their mana, as a direct balance for their staying power. At hero, with all standard combat abilities up, including adrenaline rush, a psionicist will lose about 150m per tick, plus whatever they use for maladictions/lag/damage abilities. This means that they are actually far more useful in big, quick fights, than long drawn-out farming. Adrenaline rush also sucks down about 20 movement per tick, which isn't usually as much of an issue as mana, but a consideration. Generally, if a psionicist is coming after you, your best bet is to draw them out through attrition, and let the natural loss of mana/mv work in your favor.

The other strength of the class is accelerated healing, and ordered mind. When it comes to PvE, a careful balance of accelerated healing (and a sharp eye on a tick timer) will allow you to rarely need to sleep more than 1 - 1.5 hours to fully heal. This means, with some DOT, you can pull down some impressive mobs all by yourself. You also have three defenses (though deflection does not seem to fire as reliably as dodge/parry), and staffs/2hd spears are entirely up in your bag. If you can stand in combat long enough to get 2x psionic blasts off, with a poison/wounding weapon, then only need to sleep 1 hr, you can do some surprising fights.

Skill Progression:
I do not think that psionicist's progression has been looked at/updated in a while, and while it's not terrible, all their battle presence is obtained at levels 23 & 25 (enhance reflexes & prowess at 23, second attack at 25). I feel like this should be broken up far more to aid in smoother ranking. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing prowess while still in the newbie school, around level 5 - 10. Then second attack around 14-19, and enhanced reflexes at 23-25. Slot progression seems fine; you start with four slots, and get another every 10 levels (starting at level 20). Total of eight, which is enough to keep all your battle prep up (including adren rush) and have 1 extra slot for one of your maladictions.

Useless/Mostly Useless Abilities:
Leech is useless as it is. Considering it is two rounds of lag to use, and only hits on the tick, even if it could pull 200m on that tick I would be unlikely to bother in PK. Possible fix would be something that was more of a passive buff, stealing mana with each attack or something.

Paranoia... Ugh. The lack of full sleep regen is fine, but it's not something I would ever bother putting a practice session in to, let alone waste two rounds of PK lag with. Some of the echoes are mildly amusing for the person receiving, at least?

Enhance/Reduce Pain... I haven't tested this in a long time, it's another one of those things that sounds good, but would you really use that over psi blast/shove/confuse/vertigo/forget/slow?

Levitation is obviously a joke, but I would go further than just making it flight, perhaps. A regular flight ability I may use during PvE (probably not), but I would definitely not use it during PK. The cost of a slot vs. flight potion is just too far off. However, if levitation had something else going for it, it may be a consideration for PK.

Backlash is fairly useless, but only because I have never once fought another psionicist. I had hoped with assassin & watcher moving to the mentalist catagory, that this might show some extra use, but none of their abilities that focus on another player seem able to be wrested from (afaik, it is only cloak & beguile). I actually have no idea how much damage this offers, but it would need to be considerable to really be worth a practice session, unless I knew I was going to be fighting another psionicist. Perhaps rolled in to mindshield, to act as a failstop if you do not resist the ability in the first place.

Psychic block/Mind Thrust are actually more useful now, considering watcher/assassin. Both of these could ruin either of those classes breakfast, though not completely de-fanging anyone but another psionicist. I would honestly suggests rolling these two in to one ability, but perhaps that would be too useful if people actually began playing more psionicists.

ESP has its minor place, but it's fairly rare that a PC gets deafened, and then I am only going to use this ability to talk to my group mates while resting off whatever other damage I took from the mob. I'm surely not going to use my valuable slot real estate to hear things during PK, considering I do not need to sing/cast. I might put a practice session in this, but I would not be bothered by skipping it entirely.

Detect life seems like it should be useful, but you cannot actually do any AOE damage. You cannot actually see the invis/hidden/camo person, you can just see that "someone" is here. That can be minorly useful, but without something worth doing with that information, forget about it.

Overwhelm/Dominance are... eh. I know that there are times when these are useful, and the flavor is great, but the class would not really lose much by losing these. They each take four slots, though overwhelm at least has a use in PK. Dominance is pretty silly against a PC, considering they can do any action they want, they just also have to do your 2-round-lag commands as well. So, really, it's just an ability to hopefully get a minor tank when killing some big mob by yourself, and even then it makes them initially hostile (even if successful), requiring an hour or two to fully break their will.

Maladictions:
Psionicists really have the bee's knees of maladiction technology, though I would like personally suggest that block vision is not nearly the ultimate blindness that many people think it is. While it does have the chance to blind someone for an extremely long time, my experience shows that most moderately intelligent (20+) races shake it off within 1 or 2 ticks, and it is resisted fairly often. I do love confusion, vertigo, forget, slow reflexes, suggestion. Unfortunately all of those can only be used to initiate combat. I can understand forget, but the other abilities have spells that do similar effects, which can be cast during combat (general statement, and perhaps not 100% true). Plus these need an open slot & mana upkeep, etc. But they are definitely not losing sleep over any of that.

Ability Suggestions:
Sustenance. Though it would not be absurdly useful, I would not mind an ability that meant I did not have to eat/drink, at the trade-off of severe regen cut-back, or entirely absent regen. This would be mainly just an RP tool during times that I do not want to be eating/drinking.

A way to regen movement points, or spend less while walking, much like assassin's celerity, though without the third attack.

Calm. Something you can focus in & out of combat.

A way of directing a mob/PC's attention where they want it. This would be like rescue & evoke hatred, though I admit that may be a little strong, I'm not sure. It would make sense, thematically, at least.

An ability to expel poison from their bodies. I would not picture this as a straight-up resistance boost, but more of a way to manipulate the muscles near the wound and expel the poison. Perhaps as a buff that can attempt that each round, or as an instant expulsion.

Devotion. Okay, I know that's not going to happen, but I threw it on the list. The first psionicists, iirc, used many of the mental disciplines introduced by the ak'anginta schools. It would not be entirely absurd that they could do something similar, considering they are an entirely internal class that has some minor focus on weapons use.


Anyways, after some recent conversations in Discord, I wanted to break down what I really think makes this class so great (and what could really be changed). Anyone frustrated by the recent regen reversion should consider this class, because they feel so much stronger with the rates the way they are now. The largest piece of advice I could give to someone looking at playing one, however, is a very close eye on ticks. I prefer coffee over beer when playing a psion, because I feel that they really benefit more strongly than other classes to those who pay extreme attention to detail. There is always a balance to consider when resting, fighting, and wandering, and you can either play a psionicist well, or poorly.
Do ch'taren dream of translucent sheep?
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Steve the Black
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Post by Steve the Black » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:31 am

A fine review. I think you really did a good job succinctly summarizing the positive points and weak sides of the class.
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