Last week, the Dungeons & Dragons team began playing with the idea of psionics paired with marshal classes. We reviewed the Psychic Warrior here, and now it’s time to channel our inner magic to wield energy blades with the Soulknife Rogue. Honestly, how can you not be intrigued by the name alone? However, reading the rogue can manifest blades via their psychic power, strong enough to strike the enemies mind.. well, I’m here for it. So, let’s dive into this archetype available for selection by a Rogue starting at 3rd level.
One thing the D&D team does well, in regard to these new sub-classes, is to create a narrative hook that can be used by the player. One can simply copy these ideas, or just use them as a spring board to write your own character backstory. For the Soulknife, the team paints a picture of a child haunted by their gifts. Perhaps one day, in an act of self defense, the blades appeared for the first time in the character’s hands in a time of desperate need. Leaving no trace of wounds, the player is shocked at what they have done, but gains the attention of an order of assassins, who could thing of a few uses for this particular talent (murder, they want to use it for murder). Again, just a brief setup, but you can already imagine a number of character backstories that would complement this archetype. So, let’s jump into the mind of a killer!
Psychic Blade – 3rd level
“As a bonus action, you can create a magical blade of shimmering psychic power from one or both of your hands.” Dealing 1d6 psychic damage, your rogue will never be without their weapons again. This ability is the core of the Soulknife Rogue, and has me excited as a player to surprise my enemies as psychic blades appear in my hands. Did you find yourself captured or searched by the guards? Do they think you are unarmed? Well, just wait for the sneak attack damage!
Psionic Enhancement – 3rd level
The rogue can focus once a day after finishing a long rest and gain the benefit of one of the following:
• You can communicate telepathically with any
creature you can see within 30 feet of you. If a
creature can speak at least one language, it can
respond to you telepathically.
• Increase your walking speed by 5 feet.
• Your hit point maximum and your current hit
points increase by an amount equal to your
Intelligence modifier plus your rogue level.
I always enjoy flexibility, and the telepathy is a nice touch, but a few extra hit points and increased walking speed don’t feel very… psychic to me. I would just take the telepathy every time. Not that the others are not mechanically powerful, but rather, just not interesting from a role-play/theme perspective. I would have liked to see the options be between telepathy and perhaps the Mage Hand cantrip? Again, playing more into that psionic fantasy. That being said, I am totally happy to take telepathy and call it a day here.
Terrifying Blade – 9th level
Once pierced by your psychic blade, you can force a creature to make a wisdom saving throw (DC = 8 + proficiency bonus + Int modifier), or be frightened of you until the start of your next turn. Obviously, this ability is mechanically strong, and will allow the rogue to control the enemies action economy. Forcing an enemy to flee, setting up your party to take attacks of opportunity could also be devastating for the weak willed. Though, the role-play side of me wants to encourage the player/DM to describe this moment. A blade of psychic energy hits the enemies chest, and for a brief moment, the two are linked… what does he see. Does the villain see his own death? Does a brief vision of the void enter their mind? Maybe the rogue gets a glimpse of this as well. I see potential to unveil a mystery for the rogue player if this ability is a favorite at the table.
Psychic Veil – 13th level
“You can weave a veil of psionic static to mask your physical presence. As an action, you can magically become invisible“. This ability is a cleaver use of psionics that plays into the rogues toolkit. I imagine, that the rogue doesn’t really become invisible, but rather, simply blanks them-self out of the minds of those around them. Allowing the opportunity to setup sneak attacks, but also the role-play element and how this can be used in creative ways.
Rend Mind – 17th level
This one is brutal. The rogue can directly attack a creatures mind within 30ft forcing an Intelligence saving throw (DC = 10 + proficiency + Int modifier), and the target has disadvantage if the rogue is hidden from view (which they can easily veil themselves). On a failed save, the target takes 12d6 psychic damage and is stunned until the start of your next turn! That is an incredibly strong attack. This is at 17th level, so I don’t believe it’s overpowered, but again, you gain that bonus of controlling the battle field a bit. While you can simply make this an attack, I would encourage the player/DM to take this opportunity to role-play this action. Does attack come in the form of a vision? Does the enemy drop to their knees in pain, grabbing their head and screaming to make it stop? (Always describe the screams of your player’s enemies. Pro Tip)
It is clear that the Soulknife Rogue is made to be an expert assassin, and the toolkit excels at awarding sneak attack damage while controlling your enemies action economy. Overall, a very well designed sub-class with strong role-play elements that would be a thrill to bring to life at the table.