Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything Aberrant Mind Sorcerer is Psion Successor
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything introducing psionics changes the landscape of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Several subclasses included in the book represent spiritual successors to classes of a time gone by — the dreaded fourth edition D&D [insert dramatic music here]. In this totally not controversial and completely unbiased article I’d like to discuss why the Aberrant Mind sorcerer is the best fit as spiritual successor of the psion. I made a video on my YouTube channel giving an overview of the subclasses presented in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything and I promised in depth posts on each of them. This is but one of those.
An Aberrant Mind is a terrible thing to waste
The primary subclass to really inherit the spirit of the psion is the Aberrant Mind Sorcerous Origin. At first pass I hear many people saying things like, “I don’t want my character to be a mind flayer,” or “having an aboleth in your bloodline is stupid.” Before buying into this it’s important to understand the meaning of the Sorcerous Origin’s name. A quick Google search yields the following definition for the word from Dictionary.com:
1. departing from an accepted standard.
“this somewhat aberrant behavior requires an explanation”
diverging from the normal type.
The Sorcerous Origin’s flavor text offers ideas for how a character might’ve come into their psionic powers and it explicitly calls out alien influence as the flavor of this class. This immediately evokes a few science fiction ideas to me. The first is an X-Men-style mutation enabling a character to utilize psionic powers, especially Jean Grey with her connection to the Phoenix Force, which I could totally see causing an Aberrant Mind mutation. Another is some sort of scientific alteration or accident.
Regardless of a character’s origin and flavor the Aberrant Mind sorcerer captures the essence of the psion in so many ways. Not only does Metamagic feel very close to the psion’s power augmentation feature from previous editions but even the limitations and versatility of the class’s spell list strongly supports this.
Aren’t psions Intelligence-based?
Psionics traditionally share an association with Intelligence. A sorcerer’s unique mind helps define the class and addresses this concern. If you read the post on our live play game Those Bastards! then you know how different types of intelligence play into the various mental ability scores of 5E D&D. A quick breakdown is as follows:
Intelligence. Your knowledge, capacity for learning, logic, and critical reasoning. Recognizing patterns.
Wisdom. Your awareness, both of yourself and your sense of cosmic understanding. Practical application of knowledge. Intuition.
Charisma. Your force of presence, your ability to influence others. Ability to cause others to react to you and your actions in the way you want.
With this understanding it makes perfect sense for Charisma as a psion successor’s primary ability score. Regardless of spells taken a sorcerer influences the world around them with their force of presence — their willpower.
Beyond telekinesis and telepathy… but not forgotten
Many psionic and psychic archetypes indulge weird powers like manipulating temperatures, causing bizarre supernatural effects and even summoning creatures from other planes. (Thank you, Stranger Things.) As such it’s easy to make basically any psionic flavor you want with the sorcerer.
The abilities of an Aberrant Mind really work to give the sorcerer resources it lacks from its spell list. Things like additional always prepared spells and 1st level Telepathic Speech are balanced with finesse to ensure this sorcerer never stomps on the toes of other telepathic classes such as the Great Old One warlock. Telepathic Speech in particular is keenly balanced so a sorcerer might yet desire to take the Telepathic feat, as the feat still grants features not gained by this Aberrant Mind feature.
Another aspect that just feels a lot like older psions is the progression of extra spells. In 4E D&D, which I keep referencing, because I have the most experience with this edition outside of 5E, psions replaced weaker abilities with stronger ones. An Aberrant Mind sorcerer not only possesses a list of extra spells that feel like natural progressions of previous tiers but also explicitly allows a character to substitute spells from this feature with other spells. The only stipulations are they must be from either the divination or enchantment school and must come from the sorcerer, warlock or wizard list. This versatility is huge! Move over bards — you’ve got some versatility competition.
In general the Aberrant Mind takes great pains to remain true to the psion of older editions. The Psionic Sorcery feature hones in on this by allowing spells to be cast with Sorcery Points instead of spell slots. The 14th level Revelation in Flesh feature grants an alternate form — very mutant superhero in nature — triggered with sorcery points as well. A well designed sorcerer needs to give new and fun ways to spend sorcery points while a true psion successor needs to treat these points in a similar way as psi points of previous editions.
Magic and psionics should feel different!
As for segregating magic from psionics more of this falls to the Dungeon Master and players than anything else. While I could totally see how spellcasters might try to mingle or augment their psionics with magic or vice versa much of the separation both canonically and ideologically belongs to the DMs and their worldbuilding.
That being said, this class does much of the legwork by giving abilities with no verbal or somatic components. Coupled with some of the existing metamagic options this allows for psionic flavor in nearly identical effects to psions of previous editions (at least ones I’ve played).
Like I said the onus of flavor lies primarily between DM and players but the Aberrant Mind mechanics are no slouches in representing the psion and how special dedicated psionics can be. What’s more this subclass unmistakably strives to achieve exactly what I propose it succeeds with — succeeding the psion as 5E D&D’s dedicated psionic master.
What do you think?
How do you feel about the Aberrant Mind sorcerer from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything succeeding the psion — spiritually or otherwise? Have you already tried the Aberrant Mind sorcerer in your 5E D&D campaign? What do you think of their psionic power? We want to hear from you here and on our Facebook page!