Randal Reads Dark Archive Playtest – Psychic Feats

Welcome back to the continuation of the Dark Archive (Playtest) special review blog! If you missed the beginning, you can find it here. Yesterday I discussed the Psychic class features. Today, we do a deep dive into the Psychic’s feats.


The psychic is defined mostly by its spells and psi cantrips, but like all classes, the feats are how you make the little adjustments to customize your character to make it perfect.

Psychic Feats

1st Level

Ancestral Mind – This is a nice feat. It allows your ancestry or heritage based innate spells to become occult, using your psychic spell casting ability *and* your psychic components instead of the ones that normally come with your innate ability. While this feat might be pointless on something like detect magic it could really come in handy if you are playing a fey or gnome that is loading up on ancestral primal or arcane magic. Niche, but a nice offering.

Counter Thought – Expend a spell slot and a Reaction to counteract a spell being cast with the mental trait. The slot can be any level, but you must be able to cast a spell with the mental trait. This is one of those things that looks good on paper, but will be contingent on the use of spells with the mental trait. Another nice (but niche) offering.

Mental Buffer – Resistance to mental damage of 1/2 your level, or your level when Unleashed. Again, nice, and on theme, but contingent on the campaign / enemies.

Psychic Rapport – +1 bonus to Deception, Diplomacy, Intimidation, and Sense Motive when affected by or using spells with the mental trait. This seems like a good option for a social character, but requires active or actively using magic … so it is again nice but situational, less niche, though.

Unleash Self-Defense – Ok, now we get tricky. The first optional Unleash Psyche ability. 1 action as with Unleash Focused Intent, but not quite the same requirement of 3rd round or later. This time, you have to have used two beneficial spells (self or ally) on two different rounds. So, while it is generally a 3rd round option, you could use it at the end of your 2nd round. Benefit While unleashed, you gain +1 AC and one Saving Throw, and all non “death” spells gain “nonlethal”. Drawback Penalty to spell damage equal to spell level and -1 to spell attack rolls/dcs. This is more or less the opposite of the Psyche ability you start with. I can see the Silent Whisper preferring this option over the other. Perhaps they should both be feats and psychics should just start with a free Psyche feat at first level to better tailor their preference?

2nd Level

Cantrip Expansion – This expands your base selection of cantrips, not your Psi Cantrips. Standard option for casters, no surprise.

Mental Balm – Ok, this is interesting. You can apply this Amp instead of the amps previously assigned to Psi Cantrips. You (or ally) gain bonus to Will and you can attempt to counteract a frightened or stupefied condition. The cantrip must affect you or an ally, so it is useless for Distant Grasp but Infinite Eye can use it on guidance and Silent Whisper can use it on message. That said, the bonus and counteract can be clutch.

Warp Space – This amp allows you to target your spell from another location to reduce cover by 2. This is a Distant Grasp telekinetic projectile Amp. While I know the plan is to have more options, I am looking at this within the scope of options presented. This would be a great amp if you could use it on any of your cantrips, but knowing this is only viable for this one combo, that character would likely be better off using this feat for more cantrips and just using one of them or telekinetic rend to target somebody with cover. I like the concept, but it is very limited currently

4th Level

Psychic Beacon – This is a nice utility Amp. You have to hit (or it has to fail a save) for it to work, but the target is easier to find for 1 minute. Invisible becomes concealed while just concealed creatures lose concealment entirely. No Infinite Eye (at least I don’t think mental scan counts).

Spontaneous Ignition – Half of your damage is now fire damage, and you deal extra fire per spell level. While primarily for Distant Grasp with TK projectile or rend, Silent Whisper can use this with daze as well. This is situational, but being able to bypass some resistance or exploit a weakness to fire can be a clutch option to have. No Infinite Eye, again, but potentially less niche than the beacon.

Strain Mind – Hmm, some form of burn to amp a spell? Once per hour, free action, take damage to amp a psi cantrip when you have 0 Focus Points and aren’t Unleashed. I think this is likely my first choice of 4th level feats, contingent on playing enough to see how often I meet all those requirements.

6th Level

Inertial Barrier – You are a target of the spell gain resistance to physical damage. This Amp seems pretty solid, noting that Distant Grasp won’t be able to use it on an ally.

Parallel Breakthrough – Ok, now we are getting somewhere. You can get a Unique Surface Psi Cantrip from another Conscious Mind. This will greatly improve flexibility and usability of those amps that I was previously commenting had limited functionality. Not that taking this feat is something you do just to take those feats, mind you. I also see this primarily to get TK rend for the other two minds.

Sixth Sense – When Searching, you can detect ethereal creatures in objects, and when not Searching, you get “free checks” to notice haunts, spirits, ethereal, etc. This is pretty nice. It is kinda dependent on the campaign including haunts and spirits, though so maybe not always a goto, but it is perfectly themed with the class.

Thoughtform Summoning – Ooooh, interesting. You can alter a summoned creature to make it psuedo-ethereal (resistance to physical but weak to force/mental) and it can pass through enemies. Up until this point, I hadn’t considered the occult spell list, but I can certainly see this option as solid for a summoner build.

Unleash Calculated Reasoning – Precise Discipline only, again with the casting two spells on different rounds (this time they must cause damage). Side note, this one has requirements stating “since rolling initiative” while a previous Unleash said “this encounter” … they should tighten that up for consistency. Benefit While rolling damage for a spell while Unleashed, you may instead opt to deal half the max damage instead of rolling. Drawback None. That’s right, you simply get the option to deal a known amount of damage. I think this is a solid choice in the Psyche category.

Unleash Soaring Passions – Emotional Acceptance only, two emotion effects on different rounds. Note “effects” and not “spells”. Benefit While Unleashed, a hit gets you +2 on your next attack while a failed save gets a foe a -2 on its next save. Drawback When you fail an attack you get -1 on your next while a success gets a foe a +1 on its next. This is certainly an interesting alternative to the two lower level options. I can’t quite decide if I like it better for borderline success/failure or borderline critical success/failure. Certainly makes your 6th level choices more involved to choose one.

8th Level

Deeper Breakthrough – You can now use the Deeper Psi Cantrip! I think this is likely a must for Silent Whisper, and a consideration for the others. These cantrips do help round out the power level of the psychic (when comparing spell slots of psychic to wizard).

Lingering Psyche – It says you “can” remain Unleashed longer, but then says Increase the duration to 5 rounds. I would really like clarification on if this is optional or not. Either way, 2 more rounds of free amps is pretty nice.

Mental Static – Reaction to do mental damage when you crit succeed at a Will save against mental effects. I am a fan of having multiple reaction options, especially since most of them are niche like this. Added bonus, you can send them a mental image to let them know you are coming for them … great flavor.

Mesmerizing Gaze – This is interesting. When using enchantment, you can gaze into their eyes to impart a penalty to their save … at the expense of you becoming fascinated. They can also Avert Gaze against you. Great concept, nice flavor, but I am worried it won’t be worth the cost.

10th Level

Autonomic Clairvoyance – Infinite Eye. +1 to initiative and you aren’t flat-footed to lower level creatures. Solid perks, on theme.

Autonomic Telekinesis – Distant Grasp. Telekinetically manipulate things in adjacent squares. Example of opening doors, but not picking locks. Can essentially mage hand at will. I love this idea, but worry that the vagueness will be troublesome for some tables (I know my group would love it, but I also know groups that would argue over it too much).

Autonomic Telepathy – Silent Whisper. Communicate telepathically with any creature in 15 ft that you share a language, gain +1 bonus to Sense Motive or Detect Lie when using telepathy. This is, in my opinion, certainly the better of the 3 Autonomic feats.

Signature Spell Expansion – 2 more signature spells. I mean, it does expand your ability to use spells, but with the limited slots you have, I think you are better off with an Autonomic or Dark Persona.

Unleash Dark Persona – You must have been damaged by the same foe in two rounds this encounter. Benefit Gain bonus spell damage to the foe and gain temp HP. Drawback You are so focused you have a penalty against other targets. This is a fun, evocative Psyche. It is probably my favorite at this level.

12th Level

Empathic Connection – Emotional Acceptance. This Reaction lets you gain some of the benefits an ally received from an emotion effect. It says half healing as Temp HP or the same status bonus. It is also usable only once every 10 minutes. This is handy if you have built your party around emotion effects. Speaking of emotion effect … I should probably take a look at how many spells have the emotion trait on them.

Mantra of Discipline – Precise Discipline. This spell is great in theory, but leaves itself open to GM/Player disagreement. You can give yourself a bonus to illusion/enchantment and a resistance to “pain” … via inflicting pain as opposed to causing damage. I get the thought, and think I would be find allowing and adjudicating it, but I see this troublesome in PFS. On theme, though.

Unleash Immediate Gratification – Here we go, go Unleashed regardless of what round you are in … at the cost of being stupefied 1 the entire time. Ooof. But, if you need it, you need it. Having the option is good.

Unleash Reflexive Sustainment – You cast a spell one round and sustained it at least once this encounter. Benefit You become quickened only to Sustain a Spell. Drawback No reactions or free actions on other creatures turns, and you cannot Sustain as a free from other abilities. I really like this Psyche option. Level 12 will make for some interesting decisions … although by this time your build might steer you into one or the other easily.

14th Level

Conscious Spell Specialization – Oh, ho, ho. What’s this? Extra lower level spell slots? Sure, only 1st-4th (5th at 18th), and only for your given spells, but hey, more spell slots means more power/versatility.

Deep Roots – Ooof. A target that crit fails your “controlled” spell takes mental damage after doing what it is told. That’s cold. More damage is nice, but I feel like Conscious Spell Specialization is a better choice.

Shatter Space – This is a clever amp that is useful offensively or defensively. 5 ft emanation from you (or target) deals slashing damage (scaling) to any that start in it (can include target if you want). Use on yourself or ally to defend … target foe in a group to offend. A great Amp.

16th Level

Constant Levitation – Constant air walk (max 5 ft height) and fly while Unleased!?!?! Yes please!

Unleash Poltergeist Phenomena – You cast two area evocations since initiative. Benefit 15 ft emanation damage to everybody that starts their turn in the area. Drawback You take the damage as well. Very flavorful, can be very effective when surrounded, and when you are likely to use it the damage you take is probably worth the benefits. I approve of this Amp.

18th Level

Cranial Detonation – You, what!? You fell a foe with a cantrip, and *then* you amp up … causing their head to explode in a 15 ft emanation for either physical (Fort) or mental damage (Will) damage of 1d4 per level. I really like the idea and flavor, and appreciate the choice of damage type.

Deepest Wellspring – You can finally Refocus and get 3 points back. Yay! I think you will need this at some point, but free Amps using Psyche might allow you to get by without this feat.

20th Level

Become Thought – You can become pseudo-ethereal, gaining physical resistance but weakness to mental or “spirit damage”. Resurrecting once a century as long as somebody remembers you is a pretty great perk, too.

Dual Amplification – You can spend one Focus point to apply two Amps. This is nice.

Mind Over Matter – Additional 10th level spell.

Multifaceted Psyche – You can possibly Unleash two psyches at the same time.

These “capstone” abilities evoke an interesting feeling. Become Thought just sounds rad, but other than that story element of repeating life, it feels a bit like the other 3 … meh. They are all nice abilities, and I can see some fun combinations from them … but they seem more obligatory than additive. I can see build paths that would benefit from each of them, but only Become Thought makes me want to build around them … and it could be applied to almost any build and still fit theme.

This covers the Psychic. Thanks for reading along … tune in tomorrow as I cover the Thaumaturge’s class features. As always, please join us at our Discord server https://discord.gg/Rt79BAj to let me know what you think or simply have a chat!

Randal Meyer

As a lover of crunch (rules and numbers), Randal is always tinkering with rules options. His love of magic users has led him to always fuss with the mechanics of magic and magic items. Years of GMing on the fly have given him endless ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, gaming, or playing with his kids, Randal is likely working on improving Sage (his Discord bot for immersive play-by-post gaming that you can see in action on Know Direction's Discord in the Know Direction Societous PFS channels) over at https://www.patreon.com/rpgsage!