A brand new look at the powers of the mind has manifested in the Plane of Awesome for the Pathfinder Rolplaying Game and the Occult Adventures psychic magic system – Ultimate Occult from Rogue Genius Games. GMs not wanting stray far from the psychic magic rules from Paizo can still satisfy old-school psionics fans with a few re-imagined class analogs. And for the larger permissive community Dreamscarred Presses’ psionics can play nice with this latest case of sibling rivalry!
Rundown: The Classes
Ultimate Occult is intended to make the psychic magic system have access to classes and mechanics older fans of psionic mechanics crave but may not be allowed in a campaign where Occult Adventures represents the only psychic magic. It is a goal it achieves nicely. When compared to the ancestral system’s psionics, there is a lot of flavor that translates through alongside some tasty new twists.
In our re-imagined hitlist we see a couple familiar faces–psion and psychic warrior–re-imagined as psychic spellcasters. We also get the “arcanist” of the psychic set in the form of the mentalist, a highly versatile psychic caster. One would suspect that the general philosophy of these new looks was one of streamlining. Recognizable vancian slot mechanics and a vocation system more dependent of classical magical schools.
- Psion – While its ancestral and other awesome analogues have disiciplines, Ultimate Occult utilizes Vocations, themed groupings of spells that the psion expands their spells known with. Additionally, the psion gains a pool of psychic energy that can manifest spells from their vocation more freely, similar to the psychic magic bestiary ability. Between this, spontaneous magic, and undercasting the flexibility of other psionic systems point systems is closely rivaled. Familiar abilities such as psychic focus combine with new takes like psychic release to open up options you will want for your character.
- Psychic Warrior – A similar re-envisioning to psion, the psychic warrior has a trance based system of combat abilities and power enhancements, a path focused psychic magic pool and combat specialization. With class features and path abilities that allow additional spell-knowledge (magus and bloodrager spells!) and the ability to enhance weapons on the fly the class hits a balance between its psionic cousin and the Pathfinder base magus class. Fans of either are likely to enjoy this new take.
- Mentalist – This class is an intriguing blend of psychic and psion that echoes arcanist from the wizarding set. Somewhat similar to the erudite the mentalist can prepare a spells known list from available psychic and sphere selections (similar to psychic vocations). Their psychic magic pool allows them a number of free cast points for any spell currently available to them, combined with spontaneous slots and undercasting to make them the most versatile of these new classes.
Long time psionic fans might notice a few missing staples, but a few of them are hiding in the archetypes section: Wilder and recent additions to the body of psionic classes Vitalist and Dread all show up in new forms in this portion of the supplement. People who are fans of these classes can use the book to render psychic caster versions of them as well. If the full psionic versions of these classes are unavailable or you prefer psychic magic you should definitely check them out.
Alpha-Ville: Ultimate Occult or Dreamscarred Press?
The key point to keep in mind here is one of difference not superiority. The point allocations and slots work out in favor of Ultimate Occult psions in terms of workday (Approximately 122 spell/power levels per day compared to a point based psion’s 72-113 spell/power levels a day at 10th level with 20 ability scores) but favor Dreamscarred’s psion in potential burst damage (11 fully augmented to ML powers/12 5th level effects versus 3 5th level effects). GM planning, encounter specifics and play style can all have drastic impacts to balancing factors.
Ultimate Occult psions have slightly broader spell vs. psionic power access (9 more counting daily adds from Vocation Magic at 10th) but are still restricted to the limits of spell slots with the added edge of potential undercasting. Usage versatility still favors Dreamscarred’s psion in specific power application.
Ultimate Occult also benefits from the blessing (and curse) of spell-based reference, meaning that it pulls from the larger body of Paizo products to round out the Vocation and Sphere spell lists of its classes. It also means that as new psychic supplements come out to support Occult Adventures each class (mentalist, psion and psychic warrior) benefits from those new spells as well. It also means you may need to bring a bit more reference to the table than the one or two Dreamscarred books a similar character would require but that is a small price to pay for a dynamic and expanding spell-list.
Dreamscarred still hold definitive appeal in the customization department. While Ultimate Occult is robust and offers many, many options and potential play styles, the extended body of Dreamscarred’s work means there are more content options out there. If you are able to play the Dreamscarred versions of the Archetyped classes (Wilder, Vitalist and Dread) you will find them with more options but the archetypes are surprisingly dynamic all the same. In time, these options may normalize as Rogue Genius or other 3pp companies expand the Ultimate Occult options.
Mirror-Mirror: Permissive Gaming (Why Not Both?)
It should be noted that a vast amount of games that would allow either Ultimate Occult or Dreamscarred’s Ultimate Psionics will most likely in fact allow both. This joined world might run into a few snags (mostly in naming conventions), but might be an exciting wonderland of mental potentials. Consider the following:
- Nomenclature – Psions and Psychic Warriors are likely to have to require subtypes like Psion (psionic) or Psion (psychic). Have your terminology clear or consider renaming one or both classes for you campaign.
- Multiclassing? – It is also possible due to the differences in the systems you may have a character that wishes to use BOTH. Psychic Warrior (psionic) /Psychic Warrior (psychic) could be a viable option with some builds. Consider whether or not this multiclass will be allowed in your game.
- Source and Transparency – Getting clear on whether psychic casters and psions are drawing on the same Source (like Arcane or Divine) or different sources. We have looked at some of these before if a GM needs help working it out for their campaign.
Regardless of your favorites, adding the power of the mind to a campaign you are running may make some of your players very happy. And Ultimate Occult is another amazing tool in the awakening of our player character toolbox.
Speaking of fun and robust design, the Book of Beyond and its component projects also work with Ultimate Occult with no modification needed. So regardless if a character is a psion or psion, the powers of the Beyond will hold deeper meaning for them. Look for Book of Beyond: Liminal Power later this summer or get it as part of the Book of Beyond WIP Subcription. Our other products are available on d20pfsrd.com, drivethruRPG, paizo and RPGNow.
Ultimate Occult is trademarked by Rogue Genius Games and is used by permission.